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Hello and welcome to my presentation. My name is Eren and I am a freshman at UNC-Chapel Hill. In this presentation, I will be exploring how discrimination against the LGBTQ community in healthcare affects their health. Discrimination against the LGBTQ community is present in all aspects of life in Turkey. The causes of this include systematic homophobia and cultural prejudice. Unfortunately, this hate is also present in healthcare. According to a ranking by Numbeo (2021), Turkish healthcare ranks 28th out of 98 countries, however, the LGBTQ community can not benefit from it fully. Throughout my research, I have found that denying equal treatment will lead to worse physical and mental health for the LGBTQ population in Turkey.

Homosexuality is not prohibited nor is it punishable by law in Turkey yet it is greatly frowned upon and in many environments considered unnatural. The Turkish government has made no effort for LGBTQ inclusion in society. Additionally, the government has demonized the community by attacking and blaming them at every chance they get. In order to understand the magnitude of the stigma and homophobia present in Turkey, I will share with you some quotes from government officials.

“Each society has its own moral values. Especially for our Turkish society, it is not possible for us to be together with the gay culture in Europe. It is also not possible to approve of this. How we have been brought up, our brand of morality, our views are a little different. I hope to God that in Turkey there will not be a gay and there should not be” (Engin, 2015, p. 843). 

This quote belongs to the mayor of Ankara, the Turkish capital. Many quotes like this appear frequently in Turkish media. Quotes like these make it is easy to understand what kind of stigma and hate the LGBTQ community is dealing with in every facet of life.

When it comes to healthcare the struggles are amplified. For accurate analysis, one important aspect that we need to look at is the healthcare preferences and utilization of LGTBQ individuals. According to Guldal (2019), LGBTQ individuals prefer private institutions to public ones and larger health institutions to small ones. This is especially true with transsexual individuals who cannot hide their identities. They say that this is because they are able to complain if and when they encounter discrimination. They are clients who get service in return for money in larger private institutions. In smaller and public institutions there is no accountability system, they are citizens who get service from the government. Moreover, healthcare providers who are better educated in specific health issues pertaining to the LGBTQ community are more present in private institutions. The problem with this is that private healthcare is expensive. Guldal (2019) says that in many instances LGBTQ individuals stop seeking professional help and in turn, they prefer trying to solve their health problems through the internet or their peers. This leads to depreciating physical health as their access to experts on the internet is limited and their peers can contribute just so much. One participant in Guldal’s (2019) research explained that when she goes to a hospital the personnel at registration loudly reads her male name on her ID, even announces it on the PA system. This leads to uncomfortable stares from people surrounding her, sometimes this can also lead to ridicule and abuse.

Dealing with these struggles with healthcare providers and discrimination from other societal institutions seem to have a large effect on the mental health status of the LGBTQ community. According to a study done by Sahin (2019), 65% of people who participated in this LGBTQ survey self-reported that their mental health status was poor. This sizable percentage gives us an idea of how troubling the issue is. Furthermore, the lack of access to healthcare can lead to mental breakdowns. One quote from Guldal (2019) sums it up perfectly.

“When the issue of healthy aging is mentioned, they react sarcastically and say that they don’t think they will make it that far. Here it must be said that they are referring to becoming victims in murders related to homophobia”. 

Unfortunately, the mental health struggles of the LGBTQ community go beyond sarcastic jokes. As a consequence of deteriorating mental health, it is possible to infer that mental health struggles result in self-harming and unhealthy behavior. Sahin (2019) reports that 60% of participants in his survey smoked, 76.3% consumed alcohol, and 55.3% practiced unprotected sex. These practices can lead to problems with sexually transmitted diseases, complications with lung and liver problems, and an increased risk of cancer. It goes without saying that the LGBTQ community struggles to get treatment for these issues as well. 

In conclusion, each and every aspect of discrimination against the LGBTQ has a domino effect on individual health. At this point, it has become a cycle of harm. Resulting in both lower mental and physical health including unhealthy behaviors and habits. The lack of recognition and efforts to overcome this issue may consequently lead to even worse lives and shorter life expectancies for the LGBTQ community. One possible way to reduce the occurrence of these instances is new implementations in medical education. Specific training should be included for treating and approaching LGBTQ individuals. This training should be mandatory not only for doctors and nurses but for everyone who interacts with patients frequently. 


Thank you for listening.






Engin, C. (2015b). LGBT in Turkey: policies and experiences. Social Sciences, 4(3), 838–858.

Ercan Sahin, N., Aslan, F., & Emiroglu, O. N. (2019). Health status, health behaviors, and healthcare access of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations in Turkey. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 34(1), 239–246.

Güldal, A. D., & Bozdağ, S. (2019). Healthcare services experiences of LGBTI individuals: a qualitative research. The Journal of Turkish Family Physician, 10(4), 195–204.

Numbeo. (2021). Health care index by country 2021.

Uysal Toraman, A. (2018). Health care utilization, barriers to care among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in Turkey. International Journal of Caring Sciences, 11(2), 1204–1213.



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