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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has urged action against LGBTQ people in the country, accusing them of “sneaking up” on Turkey’s values and trying to “poison” the country’s youth.
Erdoğan made the comments during a speech on Monday, June 29, following a meeting of the Council of Ministers.
After touting the Eurasian country’s coronavirus response, including claiming that Turkey would be one of the strongest country’s to emerge from the pandemic, Erdoğan then pivoted to attacking LGBTQ people.
“We will not stop fighting until we reach the goal of a large and strong Turkey,” Erdoğan said. “Someone is sneaking up on our national and spiritual values again.”
He said that “throughout human history” LGBTQ people have been “trying to poison” young people in Turkey by “normalizing” heresy.
Erdoğan accused those who support “such marginal movements contrary to our faith and culture are partners in the same heresy in our eyes.”
The Turkish president said that anything recognized as wrong and “cursed by the people” would not “take root in this country.” Erdoğan then urged his fellow Turks to “take a stand” against LGBTQ people.
“I invite all members of my nation to be careful and take a stand against those who exhibit all kinds of heresy that our Lord has forbidden, and those who support them,” Erdoğan said, adding that Turkey “has the power to fight attacks targeting its national and spiritual structure.”
Erdoğan’s comments are the latest example of a perceived crackdown on LGBTQ people in the majority Muslim nation, where homosexuality is legal and transgender people can change their legal identity.
However, the country has become more conservative in recent years due to Erdoğan’s Islamist-influenced government, which has made moves away from the Muslim-majority nation’s previously secular nature.
The day of Erdoğan’s speech, his government defended a tweet by the head of the humanitarian organization Turkish Red Crescent, which called gay people “abnormal” and pedophiles.
Kerem Kinik said that he wouldn’t allow LGBTQ people to “step on human dignity” in a tweet posted on Pride Day, Sunday, June 28, Reuters reports.
“We will protect nature and the mental health of our children,” he wrote. “We’ll fight against those who violate healthy creation, who make abnormal look normal by using their power of communication and impose their pedophiliac dreams cloaked as modernity on young minds.”
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) slammed his tweet, saying it didn’t represent the views of the IFRC and calling his words “wrong and offensive.”
It noted that Kinik is bound by the IFRC’s code of conduct, which “forbids any form of homophobia, hate speech or prejudice.”
The Turkish government responded by claiming that Kinik was a victim of “LGBT propaganda,” with Erdoğan’s communications director tweeting that it “poses a grave threat to freedom of speech.”
Erdoğan’s government has previously supported other anti-LGBTQ comments, including earlier this year when he defended a religious leader who said homosexuality “brings illnesses” and “corrupts generations.”
In May, the Turkish government discouraged children from drawing rainbows during the COVID-19 pandemic amid fears that they would “turn children gay.”
Erdoğan’s comments also represent a dramatic departure from his previous stance on LGBTQ rights. In 2002, prior to the country’s general elections, he said that it was “imperative” that the rights of gay people should be constitutionally guaranteed.
Last year, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) said that Turkey was one of a number of European countries “moving backwards” in their treatment of LGBTQ people.
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