Arab-Kurdish couple ties the knot in landmark gay wedding

Arab-Kurdish couple ties the knot in landmark gay wedding

Arab-Kurdish couple ties the knot in landmark gay wedding

Ekin and Emrullah pose with relatives and friends during their ceremony on a boat sailing on the Bosphorus.

Ekin Keser and Emrullah Tüzün have confronted social and familial pressures by holding an open and festive celebration to mark their wedding in Istanbul. 

Keser, a 21-year-old college student, is of Arab origin, while Tüzün, 28, migrated to Istanbul with his family from the southeastern province of Batman when he was two-years-old. 

Discussing their experience of taking the Istanbul ferry in their groom suits to arrive on time to their own ceremony, Keser said a Syrian woman on the boat asked Tüzün if he was Keser’s husband, which greatly pleased them both. 

“If they could understand that we are also individuals, then we can share the same rights that have been recognized for couples in heterosexual marriages,” Keser said.

Although the wedding held no legal significance, the marriage was a “dream” for them couple, he added.

Both Turkish citizens, Keser and Tüzün faced trouble in a country that does not recognize, much less discuss, gay marriage.

Keser said despite their families’ knowledge about their sexual orientation and relationship, he faced strong reactions from his family when he announced his intention to marry Tüzün. 

“Some went as far as to threaten us with death. But we didn’t listen to the people who said, ‘You have done enough. Now, hide [your relationship],’” he said. 

“We haven’t faced any hatred from Emrullah’s family. At least they are being more moderate at the moment,” he also said, adding that some of his cousins had attended the ceremony. 

Keser and Tüzün both said they hope one day to officially formalize their marriage and accomplish other dreams, such as adopting children. 

“We have never hidden from the hetero-sexist order,” Keser said. “We reflect our feelings for each other in our gestures. We touch, hug and don’t refrain from holding hands.” 

The first formal request for marriage between a same-sex couple in Turkey was placed three years ago by Barış Sulu, an LGBT activist, and his partner Aras Güngör, a transgender man still recognized as a woman on his ID card. The authorities refused to formally marry them, despite the lack of legal constraints to prohibit the marriage. The couple strongly criticized the authorities’ stance, expressing their willingness to take legal action and apply to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) if necessary.