25/09/2004 | Writer: KAOS GL

Germany may be considered a tolerant place for homosexuals. But continuing social stigma still makes it difficult for many of the country's gay and lesbian immigrants to be open about their sexuality.

An unusual advertising campaign is making waves in Berlin: Posters and billboards of young good-looking men aren't anything new. But these ads are funded by the Lesbian and Gay Federation of Germany with the aim of bringing homosexuality out in the open within Berlin's large Turkish population.

With over 120,000 Turkish immigrants, Berlin is home to one of the biggest Turkish communities outside of the country. Despite being an important part of the liberal German capital, sexuality is still a difficult issue for the Turks in Berlin. The new poster campaign hopes to change all that by bringing homosexuality out into the open.

Showing five good-looking young mean wearing baseball caps, sweatshirts and low slung jeans, the bright yellow poster could be a typical advertisement for casual streetwear. Except that the slogan reads: "Kai is gay. Murat too. They belong to us. Always." Kai is a typical German name, Murat a typical Turkish one.

A flood of calls

According to Bali Saygili, a spokesperson for the Gay and Lesbian Federation of Germany, the campaign has caused a flood of calls to the organization's telephone help lines.

"After this awareness campaign, we had many calls from men from Turkish backgrounds who want information," Saygili said. "We even had parents who rang to ask, 'My son just told me he is gay, how do I react' or 'How can we reconnect with our child' because the family has had problems dealing with their child's homosexuality."

Twelve thousand posters and 50 billboards are plastered around Germany's capital, from Turkish newsagents to police stations. The campaign is also supported by the Turkish Association Berlin Brandenburg. The organization's spokesperson, Erin
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