Activist hopes to become Turkey's first openly gay mayor

ANKARA (AFP) - A 43-year-old man is to become the first openly gay candidate to stand for office in Turkey, the local media said on Saturday.

Mr Can Cavusoglu announced he would run for mayor as an independent candidate in Bulancak, a town of 60,000 people on the Black Sea, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.

The United States-educated activist and Istanbul native wants to become the first gay mayor in majority-Muslim Turkey, where homosexuality is not illegal but remains frowned upon outside urban centres.

Mr Cavusoglu describes himself as a gay activist who also campaigns for women's rights, and "a thinker, painter, writer" who hopes to attract American investment to the town if elected.

Turkey, an aspiring candidate for European Union membership, has seen a significant relaxing of attitudes towards homosexuality in recent years.