While there are no specific laws against homosexuality in Turkey, openly gay men are not welcome in the army. Despite this, gay men are forced to prove their homosexuality in order to avoid military service. Mustafa applied for a so called “pink certificate” in 2015 that exempts you from joining the army. The pink certificate states that the holder of it suffers from a ''Psychosexual Disorder''. It is an unacceptable label and a humiliating process that a person has to go through. To be able to get a pink certificate a gay man should provide a picture of himself dressed as a woman, or other explicit photographs of himself having sex with another man. The face must be visible, and the photos must show you as the passive partner. In exception, instead of photographs, doctors rely on a personality test. They ask if the person has had anal intercourse, oral sex, and what sort of toys they played with as a child. Also, if they like football, whether they wear woman's clothes or use woman's perfume. Due to the fact that Mustafa holds a British Citizenship, the military offices saw a potential customer who could buy his way out of service. Therefore, his application was denied and a bill of €5.422 has to be paid.
The fees to avoid military service have skyrocketed since the beginning of this year. In January, Mustafa received a bill of €2.000 to be paid by the end of 2019. However, by the time he was able to start saving, the fee had increased to €5.422 making it impossible for him as a full time artist to raise the money working part time jobs. If Mustafa is not able to pay the fee, he will not be able to return to Turkey freely. If he does, he will be taken into custody with the choice of joining the military or pay €10.000. There might be graver consequences, but the government is not clear about that as each case might have its own result.
However tedious this process has been, Mustafa has used it as a source of inspiration in his artworks.
“Experiencing this gave me confidence to develop more explicit works. It has allowed me to realise great with certainty how ridiculous it is to explain myself every step I take, censor my reality, hide the truth from my family. Maybe it is time that I stopped worrying about offending people. It inspires me to see that individuals can often adapt to the conditions they find themselves living in. However, there are times where people, dislocated from social life find themselves stuck in memory, imagination, truth, falsehood and reality. During this journey, I have asked myself ‘Why am I doing this? Why am I going through this humiliating process?’ Simply, I want to stand as an artist with the rights to questions the state that imposes norms upon an individual’s personal life. This allows me to practice a new personal politics through art. I wanted to experience this process myself rather than hearing what other people gone through. It was necessary to research and observe it throughout each step. In the end I think the process is different for every individual gay man who wants to receive the pink certificate.”
Mustafa hopes that this exhibition will create awareness of this misuse of power.
If you'd like to help Mustafa raise the money faster, please visit his website: https://www.mustafaboga.com/callforaction