LGBT+ Business Climate Score

Out Leadership’s snapshot of the current state of affairs for LGBT+ people, through the lens of international business. The Business Climate Score score is out of ten possible points, and is based on ten independently verifiable indicators of the legal, cultural and business context for LGBT+ people.

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1.
Are consensual homosexual acts between adults legal?
1
Yes
2.
Are marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples available?
0
No relationship recognition
3.
Is being LGBT+ punishable by death?
1
No
4.
Are sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment prohibited?
0
No
5.
Can transgender people legally change their gender markers?
0.5
Yes, but surgery is required
6.
Is sex reassignment surgery at birth for intersex children prohibited?
0
No
7.
Are sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in the provision of goods and services prohibited?
0
No
8.
Is there a U.S. State Department warning against travel for LGBT+ individuals?
1
No
9.
Do companies sponsor Pride?
0
No
10.
Are there laws prohibiting freedom of assembly or speech for LGBT+ people (i.e. “anti-propaganda laws”, media gags, etc)?
0.5
No, but in practice events are being banned
Talking Points
  • The ongoing ban on LGBT+ events in Turkey, most notably of Istanbul’s Pride parade, has a dampening effect on LGBT+ rights and community that make it hard for me to relocate LGBT+ staff there.
  • Turkey’s incremental legislative progress on LGBT+ rights – banning the sterilization requirement for gender marker changes and ditching the humiliating medical exam for gay men seeking a military service exemption – is encouraging. But the country still has far to go on LGBT+ rights, starting with comprehensive anti-discrimination laws.
  • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tightened his grip on power since a coup attempt in 2016, including a crackdown on free speech and other civil liberties. This more restrictive environment harms LGBT+ people's ability to advocate for themselves without fear of reprisal.
  • Given conservative estimates that put Turkey’s LGBT+ population at between 4 and 6% of the overall population, legalizing gay marriage and outlawing anti-LGBT+ discrimination would allow 3.2 to 4.7 million people to more fully participate in the country’s social, cultural, political, and economic life.
Talking Points
Impact of LGBT+ Discrimination on Business and Talent
  • 1
    NO RISK
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    LOW RISK
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    MODERATE RISK
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    NOTABLE RISK
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    HIGH RISK
BRAND RISK
  • 3
    MODERATE RISK
Brands are not officially penalized for supporting LGBT+ rights, but the government applies unofficial pressure to deter it. Socially, given entrenched homophobia there, it’s better to err on the side of caution.
CLIENT RISK
  • 2
    LOW RISK
Known as a relatively open and secular society in the region, there is little risk to existing business attached to working with or in Turkey.
TALENT RISK
  • 3
    MODERATE RISK
The ongoing clampdown on LGBT+ visibility and the lack of marriage equality or discrimination protections makes it moderately risky to relocate LGBT+ talent to Turkey.
MARKETING RISK
  • 3
    MODERATE RISK
In a country where under 30% of the population supports legalizing same-sex marriage, marketing to the LGBT+ community carries some risk.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBT+ People:

Status of LGBT+ Organizing and Community

  • — A gay pride parade was held in Istanbul from 2003 to 2014, when an estimated 100,000 people participated. Since then, Turkish authorities have banned the gay pride parade and have used tear gas and rubber bullets to disburse participants.
  • — There has been a transgender pride parade organized in Istanbul for the past nine years, though authorities have banned it since 2016.

Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community

  • — A 2015 poll found that 27% of the Turkish public was in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, 19% preferred civil unions, 25% were against any legal recognition for same-sex couples and 29% were undecided.
  • — Between 2010 and June 2014, at least 41 LGBT+ people in Turkey were murdered. In 2016, Turkey had the highest transgender murder rate in Europe.
  • — Turkey left Eurovision in 2012 in protest of a revamped scoring system. But in 2018, the general manager of Turkey’s state-run television station said that things like “the bearded Austrian who wore a skirt” is keeping the nation from returning. He was referring to Conchita Würst, the drag queen who won the contest in 2014.

 

Local Leaders Advocating for Equality

Out Leadership encourages you and your company to engage in safe and cautious discussion with local leaders around LGBT+ equality and to leverage your firm’s influence to support their work.

This brief was vetted by Turkish LGBT+ organization KAOS GL and by an analyst from Human Rights Watch.

To learn more about how your business can work toward influencing change in Turkey for LGBT+ people, we recommend contacting global organizations including: Human Rights Watch, OutRight Action International, and Amnesty International.