There’s a Turkish saying that every man is born a soldier; and in Turkey every man is conscripted for military service of up to 15 months. There is no alternative to this; Turkey does not recognise the concept of conscientious objection. But one group of people are exempt - homosexuals.
Their presence in the army is deemed damaging to morale and operational effectiveness. But the process by which homosexual men are asked to prove their sexual orientation is arbitrary and humiliating. Some are asked to provide pornographic photographs of themselves with their partners; others, photographs of themselves dressed as women.
This is also a problem for the military psychiatrists who have to compromise their professionalism by “diagnosing” someone as homosexual, despite the fact that homosexuality is no longer regarded internationally as a medical disorder, although it once was. In “The Pink Certificate” Emre Azizlerli lifts the lid on the only country within the NATO military alliance to discriminate against homosexuals in this way. Among his interviewees are gay men who have been humiliated in various ways during the application process for exemption, as well as another man, who wanted to join the military despite his homosexuality and enjoyed a varied sex life during his period of service. Emre also meets a psychiatrist who discusses the ethical dilemma he faced while in the army and being asked to “diagnose” gay men, and a well-known conscientious objector who went to prison for his principles