LGBT Muslims Struggle to Find Their Place in Turkey

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01/21/2019

Deniz, a 20-year-old observant Muslim who lives in Istanbul, works as a sign language translator and is studying gastronomy in his spare time. But Deniz, who prefers to use the pronoun “they,” also identifies as non-binary and pansexual. (This means that gender and sex are not determining factors in their romantic or sexual attraction.) Although Deniz sees no contradiction between devotion to Islam and sexual orientation, others are not as tolerant. “As soon as I declare myself to be a Muslim, I begin receiving insults from the LGBTI/queer community because of my faith,” Deniz said. “I am accused either of bigotry, or of having a low IQ. Therefore, I usually keep my faith to myself. “The question I hear most often is ‘How can you believe in something that makes you suffer?’” Unlike in many other predominantly Muslim countries, in Turkey being LGBT+ is not against the law. However, amid growing conservatism, individuals face stigma and even violence.

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