AIDS AND HOMOSEXUALS
If we look at the three big cities, their AIDS-fighting organizations and their relations with gay groups, we can see that a somewhat similar attitude is taking place. In the first phase the state and the society reacted in a very rude manner that homosexuals were left to die. A brochure about AIDS prevention reflects this attitude very well. It says that in order to protect oneself, one must avoid sexual intercourse with homosexuals. It was a brochure distributed by The National Education Ministry in the high schools. (A brochure for AIDS)
Fortunately in the second phase, like in the West, AIDS required new approaches to the people who are marginalized because of their sexual orientations. Istanbul AIDS Prevention Foundation recognized Lambda as the representative of gay community in Istanbul. For the first time in Turkey, Lambda prepared a brochure for gay men. Today partly due to the efforts of Lambda, Istanbul AIDS Prevention Foundation left its previous homophobic approach. As a result of this attitude, in April of 1997, it invited two members of Lambda to the National AIDS Conference in Ankara. This is for the first time in Turkey that homosexuals are represented in such a conference and this was described as a necessary step by other attendants according to Lambda members.
Another good example of that attitude change is an advertisement given to TV-stations, in which some young people have sex with each other, two of them being gay. The inclusion of gays in AIDS prevention campaigns is not something new for the West but a great change for Turkey. As mentioned above, AIDS epidemic, paradoxically, contributed to the gay movement both in the West and in Turkey in a manner that heterosexual majority began to recognize the existence of homosexuals. This process is very new and weak in Turkey because AIDS is as not as threatening as in the West. According to the numbers in the monthly bulletin of AIDS Prevention Foundation, there are 62 homosexuals with HIV virus out of 547 people. (The Bulletin of AIDS Prevention Foundation 1996: 14-15) It shows that homosexuals are not "devastated" by the epidemic. But one can argue that, as AIDS becomes a great epidemic, it's probable that it will unite homosexuals and contribute to the movement.