Acceptance of same-sex relationships in Turkey are at a record high in the majority Muslim nation, according to new research.
The Gender and Women’s Studies Research Center at Kadir Has University in Istanbul surveyed a thousand people across 26 cities on a range of issues and found that attitudes towards women’s rights and LGBTI rights are steadily improving.
Only around 6-out-of-10 of those surveyed said that same-sex relationships were unacceptable.
18.8% of those surveyed said that homosexual relationships were not a violation of societies morals while another 18.5% had no opinion about whether same-sex relationships were immoral or not.
This is a stark jump in acceptance compared to a Pew survey conducted in 2013 which found 78% disapproval of homosexual relationships – though the question may have been put differently in the Pew survey.
One of the reasons for the shift in attitudes towards LGBTI Turks could have been the visible role that LGBTI activists played in the Taksim Square protests that erupted against plans by the government to demolish the public Gezi Park and replace it with a shopping center.
The protest movement spread nation wide after protesters were violently cleared from the square – with strikes called by unions and the rainbow LGBTI pride flag was visibly on show at many protest actions across Turkey.
On 30 June tens of thousands of Gezi Park protesters marched in solidarity alongside the 4th Istanbul Pride Parade.
On 3 July of 2013 it was finally announced that the destruction of Gezi Park had been cancelled by a court ruling weeks prior.
Homosexuality has been legal in Turkey since 1858 under Ottoman rule and continued with the founding of the modern Turkish state in 1923 – though same-sex relationships are not legally recognised and there are no laws protecting LGBTI people from discrimination.