FATF punishing Turkey for taking action against LGBT people, Interior Minister Soylu says

Turkey's Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has slammed the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) decision to place Turkey under increased monitoring, saying the move aimed to punish Turkey for taking action against the LGBT community, the Duvar news website reported.

During an event held on the 46th anniversary of the Trade Union Confederation (HAK-İŞ) on Thursday, Soylu said the LGBT community had corrupted the society and as a Muslim state they would not allow such perversity. “You [Western countries] are involved in all kinds of perverse acts that we as a Muslim country will not allow,” he said.

Although homosexuality has been legal throughout modern Turkey’s history, gay people regularly face harassment and abuse.

In recent years, LGBT events have been blocked including Istanbul Pride, which was banned in 2014 after taking place every year since 2003.

Turkey was ranked 48th among 49 countries as regards the human rights of LGBT people, according to the 2021 Rainbow Europe Map published by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)-Europe in May.

In a controversial speech in April 2020, Ali Erbaş, the head of Turkey’s top religious authority, the Diyanet, which runs mosques and appoints imams, claimed during his weekly sermon that homosexuality caused HIV and that all the evil and pandemics in the world are caused by homosexuality.

At the time President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stood behind Erbaş’s remarks targeting the LGBT community.

Soylu said FATF’s decision to grey-list Turkey was a political move. However, the global money-laundering watchdog said Turkey had shortcomings in combatting money laundering and terrorism financing.

“Serious issues remain” in Turkey’s controls over financial operations, FATF head Marcus Pleyer said as the body placed Turkey on its grey list of countries under increased monitoring due to strategic deficiencies in their regimes to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

Soylu said it was Europe who was the real financer of terrorism. He added that Turkey was being put under political pressure for not releasing Selahattin Demirtaş, former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and philanthropist Osman Kavala.

Last week the ambassadors of 10 countries including Germany and the United States appealed for the release of Kavala who has been behind bars in 2017.

Demirtaş was arrested in 2016 on terrorism-related charges. On November 20, 2018 the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that Demirtaş’s lengthy pre-trial detention had violated the European Convention on Human Rights, ordering the Turkish government to pay 10,000 euros in compensation and calling for his release. The Strasbourg court described Demirtaş’s arrest as “politically motivated.”

Following the ECtHR decision, a Turkish appeals court upheld a four-year, eight-month sentence and in effect nullified the court’s decision.

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