GLXY Travel Guide - Exploring the LGBT Scene in Istanbul

14 May, 2018
In this article you can find out why and when to visit Turkey and Istanbul, how friendly is this city for LGBT persons, where to go for gay-friendly dinner options, bars, clubs and other venues, what are the most important LGBT events of the year not to be missed; how to meet locals; and other interesting and important practical details.

About Turkey and Istanbul

The name of the state is not only Turkey but the Republic of Turkey, since 1923. In 1503 Leonardo da Vinci made plans for a bridge across the Bosphorus, but his design was overwhelming for that time. Today there are two bridges across the Bosphorus. Even 80 percent of the world's export of hazelnuts comes from Turkey Istanbul Grand Bazaar has 64 streets, 4000 stores, and 25,000 employees. Istanbul, historically known as the Constantinople, is the largest city in Turkey and the fifth largest in the world with its more than 14 million inhabitants. The town is located in the Bosporus Sea, and the former is a tributary of three great empires - Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman. The famous Caesar's words 'Veni, vidi, vici' were spoken in the area of Turkey, and Alexander the Great solved the problem of the gordic node near Ankara.

The capital of Turkey is not Istanbul but Ankara. The number of archaeological excavations taking place in Turkey each year is at least 150. The oldest known human settlement is found in Catalhouyuk in Turkey and is older than 9500 years. The Artemis Temple and the Mausoleum of Halikarnas, two of the seven miracles of the ancient world, are located in Turkey.

This city is Turkey's cultural, economic and financial center. Istanbul is one of the fastest growing economies in the world due to the fact that it is the center of many well-known Turkish companies. Only some of the famous landmarks of this city are known as Aya Sofia, Suleiman mosque, Sultan Akmat's (Blue) Mosque, Galata Tower and Kiz Kulesi Square, Taksim Square, Bosporus Bridge, ancient ruins of the Valens Aqueduct - Bozdogan Kemeri, Basilica Cistern, Big Bazaar. But also other tourist attractions such as the Aquarium, the Bosphorus Zoo. Additionally, Istanbul has many cafes, restaurants, bars, shops, boutiques and snacks spices and sweets. The largest bridge in Istanbul connects two continents and one city.

The Turks are kind and friendly hosts, they try to create communication with tourists, all speak English! It is certainly worth visiting Istanbul and enjoying every visit to this city - soul and life.

LGBT situation

Gay Pride Istanbul is a Pride parade and LGBT demonstration held each year in the largest city of Turkey, Istanbul. The event was held for the first time in 2003, and since then it has been held every year. About 30 people participated in the First Turmoil in Istanbul, but numbers exponentially increased each year, reaching about 5,000 people by 2010. The 2011 summit attracted more than 10,000 people because the Turks in Istanbul are the largest march of that kind in Eastern Europe. In 2013. the parade attracted around 100 000 and at that point European Union was praising them. In 2014., with Erdogan’s anti-gay propaganda, and with the water tops attack on the parade, we have seen a drop on LGBT’s rights and freedom, and also on the number of participants in pride walk. After that, in 2016 and 2017, again the police forces stopped and banned parade.
Turkish laws do not know the same marriage or registered partnership. They don’t even have anti-discrimination law. In Turkey, military service is mandatory for all men from 20 to 41 years. On the other hand, Turks, who admit homosexuals are susceptible to evidence, can thus avoid military service. However, the homosexual Turks who decided to take such a step have witnessed the extremely humiliating procedures they were going through to prove their sexual orientation.
When it comes to public opinion, it is much more tolerant in the biggest cities, especially in Istanbul, people are very friendly since there is a huge number of diversities.
When it comes to transsexual people, they are very well received, since both the government and the public opinion aims to keep the patriarchy going. Some of the most famous public TV figures are openly transsexual. In Turkey, especially in rural environments, there is still the practice of "honor killings", where family members kill their relatives (usually women) who have violated the moral (sexual) code. Institutions, such as the police and the judiciary, usually ignore these crimes.

LGBT organizations in Istanbul are:

-Istanbul University support group
-LAMBDA Istanbul
-Pink Life LGBTT Solidarity Association
-Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association

LGBT places/baths/restaurant/clubs/hotels to visit while staying:

Tahiri Galatasaray Hamam- Kuloğlu Mahallesi Turnacıbaşı Sokak 24, Beyoğlu- The oldest friendly hammam, built in 1800’s.

Davutpasa Iskelesi Hammam- Cerrah paşa District. Org. Nafiz Gürman Str. No.2, Samatya Fatih- Hammam built in 1400’s. Amazing oriental experience.

Tek Yön - Sıraselviler Caddesi 63/1, Taksim, Beyoğlu- The most famous club in the city.

X-Large Club- The biggest clubbing are with range of events and performances

Love Dance Point- Cumhuriyet Caddesi 349/1, Harbiye, Şişli- Wild party, open only in weekends.

SuperFabric - Harbiye Mahallesi Cumhuriyet Caddesi No:42 Elmadağ, Şişli - Perfect for organizing private parties and celebrate birthdays.

Haspa Bar - Küçükparmakkapı Sokak, İpek Sokak 16, Beyoğlu - Awesome events such as karaoke and drag performances. Also, a place for a good cup of coffee.

Chaplin Café - İstiklal Cad./ipek Sk No:16 - Prepare for a night out with a bunch of young LGBT’s.