Segregation of Minorities in Turkey and Why it is a Big Problem

While the Turkish people have been historically hospitable and warm towards strangers due to old traditions and religion, it would be a lie to say that there was no discrimination in our society. There is, as much as there is in other countries. Academically, there is little to no interest in measuring segregation forms and rates in non-western countries, and this, to some extent, limits the awareness that should appear for knowingly or unknowingly discriminating or becoming a passive witness to one. There are countless forms of discrimination: towards race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental handicaps… Having a perspective in Turkish society, sexual orientation and gender are the biggest discrimination factors among people, whether shown openly or judged silently. The right to get equal academic rights as men was given to women in 1924, while they could only gain a foothold in the political world in 1930. Hitherto it’s only an act, and not rightfully acted out due to social pressure and subconscious or conscious discrimination towards women. The first women president came to position in 1946, 16 years after the act. Not considering the fact that documenting ‘first’ accomplishments of humankind by discriminating between two genders already leads to segregation, giving a position only to men for 7 years is unimaginably reasonless, not because women aiming for the post is not able enough but because they are physiologically able to reproduce and historically underappreciated.

The second most encountered type of discrimination is discrimination towards sexual orientation, often leading to violence towards people considered to be different from ‘normal’ or often described as ‘disgusting.’ I would like to openly say that this view comes from the idea behind love that is subconsciously linked to reproduction in people’s minds, but it is hard to offer this sentence in a nicely-put way that needn’t any censor. The greatest factor linking these two beliefs is religion. The registered religion of Turkish people from birth, as well as the majorly held religion in Turkey, is Islam, and although it doesn’t frankly say so, the believers tend to put women-men relationships as a priority for the sake of reproduction, as part of being able to transfer accumulated knowledge and traditions from parents to children. While most information coming from the Quran depends on interpretation, the general understanding also offers opposition to orientation other than being straight. Altering one’s appearance or orientation is deemed unfit due to ‘harming the body that is gifted by Allah,’ and having ‘impure’ thoughts towards the same sex is deemed sinful due to being sinfully useless most probably because it doesn’t ultimately end with reproduction.

Whatever the causes are, discrimination of any type and degree leads to serious regression of social values and a loss of potential talents, just because they are labeled in some way or another. Segregation based on unjustifiable discrimination leads to less interaction, ultimately limiting the ability to fit in in larger groups, the inability of individuals to decide due to only knowing same-gender settings, and the general regression of the nation as a whole. Not knowing underlying and subconscious discrimination leads to an even worse outcome, all of the aforementioned problems plus being unable to gain awareness and correct the misled mindset. All in all, raising awareness through proper education from young will lead to less discrimination and hopefully a brighter future for Turkey, as well as any other nation as long as the societies operate with a mindset of equality and unity.


Asya Yılmaz