As Pride Month begins: LGBTQ+ journalist from Van recounts how they came to see journalism as an opportunity


As June 2024 begins, the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) continues to show solidarity against the increasing attacks and criminalization of LGBTQ+ rights by the government in recent years.

While we bring attention to the violations faced by LGBTQ+ individuals, fight for their rights, and stand by them throughout the year, during Pride Month, we particularly focus on highlighting their stories and rights violations. To kick off our June articles, we share the story of an LGBTQ+ journalist from Van and a significant Constitutional Court decision that emerged from an MLSA application.

Despite bans and pressures on journalism, Ahmet in Van decides to pursue journalism and shares his story on the importance of journalism in the LGBTQ+ struggle

By Yasemin Dikici

In Turkey, bans on Pride Marches, police attacks, detentions, lawsuits, and even calls to radical Islamist groups to intervene in marches, as well as bans on LGBTQ+ film screenings, festivals, and concerts, and constitutional debates, the government continually targets LGBTQ+ individuals.

The state of press freedom in Turkey is also dire. As of today, 24 journalists are in prison due to their news reports. According to MLSA's Justice Observation Report, 314 journalists faced 133 lawsuits related to journalism in 2023, with many receiving prison sentences.

Despite all these challenges, Ahmet, an LGBTQ+ individual living in Van who shared his story with MLSA, explains how journalism became a key to deciding to stay in Turkey and continue fighting.

'I didn't go to the police because they wouldn't believe me'

Ahmet, born in Batman, moved to Van for university but found his university years very difficult due to his LGBTQ+ identity, feeling very lonely. He shares a frightening experience he had one evening while returning home from the theater alone: “I was walking home down a dark and quiet street. I started hearing footsteps behind me. I got scared and quickened my pace. Someone suddenly jumped on me and knocked me down. I pushed him off because he was drunk and ran home. Yes, I went home. I couldn’t ask for help from the police officers ahead. They wouldn’t believe me, maybe they would mock me.”

To avoid such a situation, Ahmet recounts running home in tears: “Because in such situations, police officers would mockingly say, 'You were here to meet him. Things didn’t go well, and you came to complain.' They didn’t believe us,” he said.

To leave or to stay?

Ahmet says he never wore the clothes he wore on the day of the incident again and stayed home for two months out of fear. “I couldn't recover after the incident. I told my friend in the Netherlands about it, and he invited me to stay with him. I had decided to go. I handled all the paperwork and was waiting for news from my friend in the Netherlands. Then my phone rang, and I was urgently called to the hospital. I ran to the hospital and saw my LGBTQ+ friend covered in blood. He had been beaten by his boyfriend and had no one and no 'power' to support him. That day, I decided to stay in Van and fight,” he said.

'Journalism is vital in Turkey'

Ahmet, who felt lonely during his adolescence and wrote constantly, decided to become a journalist because journalism is about writing, telling, expressing, and shouting out: “I started working, thinking 'If I become a journalist, I can make our voices heard more.' Because becoming a journalist and getting a press card was the key to a door for me. Because LGBTQ+ news wasn’t covered much and wasn’t often in the media. A piece of news could be someone else’s salvation.”

Ahmet explains that he started sharing news on a blog and, over time, met people from the field and, with their recommendations, became the news editor of a newspaper in Van.

‘We exist, and we will continue to exist’

Highlighting the joy of working and striving for a meaningful cause, Ahmet concludes: “I know journalism is already a difficult job in Turkey. Our numbers are increasing. In other words, people are becoming more aware of everything. They no longer shy away from coming out and accepting themselves. There are LGBTQ+ friends all over the world. Unfortunately, human rights violations continue everywhere. What LGBTQ+ individuals want and deserve is to live their lives without stigma, violence, and discrimination; to contribute to their families, communities, and countries. We exist, and we will continue to exist,” he said.


Medya ve Hukuk Çalışmaları Derneği (MLSA) haber alma hakkı, ifade özgürlüğü ve basın özgürlüğü alanlarında faaliyet yürüten bir sivil toplum kuruluşudur. Derneğimiz başta gazeteciler olmak üzere mesleki faaliyetleri sebebiyle yargılanan kişilere hukuki destek vermektedir.