Ant-LGBT+ rally attracts 3,000 people in Istanbul 

More than 3,000 people demonstrated in favor of the criminalization of same-sex relationships in Istanbul’s conservative Fatih district, Voice of America (VOA) Turkish service reported

The demonstrators demanded a stop to “LGBT+ propaganda” in academia, media, art, sports and education. “We need to stop the social and cultural war waged by the LGBT+,” they shouted during the demonstration. “We need to stop the LGBT+ war on gender roles.”

Aleksandr Dugin, a far-right political philosopher and close ally of Russian President Vladmir Putin, made a statement supporting the demonstration through a video recording that was displayed on a large screen. 

“My dear Turkish friends, I am very happy you have organized this meeting to protest against the normalization of LGBT,” he said. “It is not only the duty of conservative religious people, but the duty of us all to resist the imposing of globalized imperialist thought that has normalized such perversions.” 

Conservative journalist Erem Şentürk said soon children would be taught about transsexualism in schools and that the LGBT+ agenda should be stopped for the sake of the children. 

Some politicians were also present at the rally. Zühre Genişel from the neo-nationalist Vatan Party (Patriotic Party) said media platforms such as Netflix and Disney were spreading LGBT+ propaganda and were targeting Turkish family values. “Russia and Hungary have banned same-sex relationships, and Turkey should follow their example,” she said. 

The demonstration was criticized by rights activists and liberal politicians, with some organizations organizing a “counter-rally.” 

During the counter-rally Sevda Karaca from the Emek Party (Labor Party) made a statement saying such anti-LGBT+ events were supported by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to distract from other compelling social, political and economic problems. 

Izmir Mayor Tunç Soyer said such hateful speech against the LGBT+ community was unacceptable. “Nobody has the right to comment on the sexual orientation of another person. We cannot police people’s bodies and private lives. Instead of thinking about ways to tackle the economic crises and improve living conditions for everyone, we are channeling our energy into tackling hate speech,” he said. 

Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, but homophobia is widespread. After a spectacular Pride March in İstanbul drew 100,000 people in 2014, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Islamic-rooted AKP government responded by banning future events in the city, citing security concerns.

It is common for Erdoğan and other politicians from the AKP to attack LGBT individuals and accuse them of perversion and ruining family values. He also made anti-LGBT propaganda a central part of his re-election campaign in May.

Turkey was ranked 48th among 49 countries as regards the human rights of LGBT people, according to the 2023 Rainbow Europe Map published by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)-Europe.

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