Erdoğan reiterates plan for anti-LGBT constitutional amendment 

A member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community (LGBTQI+) holds a rainbow flag during a rally against Turkey's withdrawal from Istanbul Convention in Istanbul, on June 19, 2021. - Turkish President sparked outrage in March by pulling out from the world's first binding treaty to prevent and combat violence against women, known as the Istanbul Convention. (Photo by BULENT KILIC / AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday that his government was working on drafting an anti-LGBT constitutional amendment to enshrine the family that will be submitted to parliament, the Evrensel daily reported.

“We will take every step to protect the family from perversion. Therefore, we’ll submit our constitutional amendment proposal, which we mentioned before the elections, for parliament’s consideration,” Erdoğan said at a press conference following the first meeting of his new cabinet on Tuesday.

Erdoğan first hinted at an anti-LGBT constitutional amendment to corner the opposition in October. 

He said a push by Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), to guarantee headscarf freedom under the law was not enough and that amending the constitution to also enshrine “family values” that exclude LGBT people would test the CHP leader’s sincerity, in an apparent move to force the opposition to choose between a pro-LGBT or a “pro-tradition” position.

“The concept of family is indispensable for us. A strong family is a prerequisite for a strong nation. We need to work on this. Together with the LGBT community, they [opposition parties] have tried to cause our family structure to deteriorate. So we will do what’s necessary,” Erdoğan said in October, adding that this would show the public who was pro-LGBT.

During his campaign for the presidential elections, Erdoğan repeatedly accused presidential candidate Kılıçdaroğlu and opposition parties of being pro-LGBT and undermining the family.

“Don’t listen to these LGBT people. You shouldn’t stand against the family. The CHP is pro-LGBT, the İYİ [Good] Party is pro-LGBT and the HDP [Peoples’ Democratic Party] is pro-LGBT. The Public Alliance believes in the sanctity of the family,” Erdoğan said during speech in May in the western province of Bursa.

According to a report by LGBT+ advocacy group KAOS GL, the country’s LGBT+ community feel threatened under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

Although homosexuality was decriminalized by the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor of modern Turkey, in 1858, it is widely frowned upon by large swaths of society, including Erdoğan’s ruling AKP, while same-sex couples are not legal.

One minister referred to gay people as “deranged.”

In 2021, the government withdrew from the Istanbul Convention on protecting women’s rights, claiming it encouraged homosexuality and threatened the traditional family structure.

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