Ankara Bar under investigation for alleging homophobic remarks by Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate president

The Turkish Ministry of Justice has ordered an investigation into the president and board members of the Ankara Bar Association for “offending the values and beliefs of the society” after they condemned what they considered to be a homophobic speech by the president of the Directorate of Religious Affairs (DİB), Turkish media reported.

The Ankara Bar had issued a press release on their Twitter account on April 24, 2020 saying the president of DİB, Ali Erbaş, had incited hatred in society by targeting LGBTQI people in a Friday sermon.

İstanbul-based advocacy group SPoD said calls reporting homophobic and transphobic incidents targeting LGBTQI people had doubled in the 45 days following Erbas’s remarks.

Ankara Bar President Erinç Sağkan and 11 members of the board were ordered to appear in court today to testify.

According to Politico Europe, LGBTQI is one of the most vulnerable communities in Turkey due to rising homophobic rhetoric.

They have been targeted with hate speech from government officials. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said gay people were perverts, while a senior public health official compared them to pedophiles. Even Netflix came under fire for airing a series that featured gay characters. LGBTQI events have been completely banned in Ankara since 2017.

Lawyer and activist Levent Pişkin, in a statement to Politico Europe, said, “This is a period of darkness that we are trying to survive. I wouldn’t call this living.”

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