Is Turkey safe for LGBTQIA+ travellers?

LGBTQIA+ travellers are those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, plus queer or questioning, intersex or asexual individuals. It also includes those who identify beyond these commonly used sexualities and gender expressions. Everyone has the right to feel safe, so we’ve put together a quick guide to safety for LGBTQIA+ folks travelling in Turkey.

LGBTQIA+ rights in Turkey

While same-sex relationships and non-normative gender presentation are not against the law in Turkey, LGBTQIA+ people have no legal protection from discrimination. Legal prohibitions of ‘offences against public morality’ can and have been used to persecute LGBTQIA+ folks, though the likelihood of this being used to target travellers is low.

Is Turkey safe for LGBTQIA+ travellers?

LGBTQIA+ travellers should be aware that while Turkey is nominally secular, it can also be very conservative and negative attitudes towards queer individuals are common, particularly outside major cities in more remote towns. Gay couples are advised to use discretion and avoid public displays of affection. That said, same-sex couples in Turkey are also unlikely to engage in PDAs such as kissing as it’s often frowned upon in Turkish society.

Transgender travellers should also be aware that trans people in Turkey report being the targets of violence and overt discrimination.

Queer culture in Turkey

The queer scene in Turkey is small compared to more liberal countries in Europe, but big cities like Istanbul (specifically the Beyoğlu, Kadıköy and Beşiktaş neighbourhoods), Izmir and Ankara have growing queer scenes with lively bars, clubs and galleries. That said, the venues can often be primarily oriented around cisgender gay men, and to a lesser extent, cisgender gay women.

For more detailed and up-to-date advice, we recommend visiting Equaldex or ILGA before you travel.

Solo travel and room sharing

If you are travelling solo on an Intrepid tour, you will share accommodation with a traveller of the same gender as per your passport information. If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let our friendly adventure consultants know at the time of booking and we’ll arrange the rooming accordingly. Most of our tours also have the option to pay for an individual room for travellers who do not wish to share.

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