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Turkish military denies asking for 'photo proof' of homosexuality

ISTANBUL – Milliyet | 11/19/2010 12:00:00 AM |

Turkey’s military is asking for 'photographic' proof that people seeking an exemption from compulsory military service on the grounds of their homosexuality are actually gay, reports say.

Turkey’s military is asking for “photographic” proof that people seeking an exemption from compulsory military service on the grounds of their homosexuality are actually gay, the daily Milliyet reported last week, citing recent EU progress reports.

Many homosexual citizens have reported being asked for photographs or video footage during the process of obtaining a report proving their ineligibility for military service, according to Fırat Söyle, a lawyer for LAMBDA Istanbul, a gay, lesbian and transsexual rights association, daily Taraf reported last week.

Although such a practice is not listed in the regulations, people are still being asked, Söyle said.

In both the 2009 and 2010 of the European Union’s progress reports for Turkey, gays were allegedly asked to provide “photographic proof” of their sexual orientation to avoid service.

The Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, however, has denied that it asks for photos or video footage from gays to prove their sexual orientation in response to a recent report from German weekly Der Spiegel on the matter.

Der Spiegel claimed in its report that the TSK had “the world’s greatest porno archive” because of its policy of asking for proof of sexual orientation from people who seek military service exemption, daily Milliyet reported Nov. 14.

Asked by Turkish website Gazeteport whether the claims were true, the TSK said it had filed a complaint against the weekly with the German Press Council because of the false claims and demanded a correction.

“The TSK absolutely does not ask for photo or video footage from those who say they are gay. Even if a person brings photos or video footage, they are not considered during the process. The claim that TSK archives those kinds of photos is absolutely false,” the military said.

The Der Spiegel article also said people with disabilities were required to fulfill military service as well, a claim that was also denied by the military.

“People with disabilities who can prove their situation with a report from a board of doctors are kept exempt from compulsory military service,” the TSK said.

The TSK, in its complaint letter to the German Press Council, said the headline of Der Spiegel’s article was “Porno for the General,” which intentionally connected high-ranking officials with pornography and was an deliberate attempt to create a false perception among readers.

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