Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) Chairman Ebubekir Şahin allegedly sent a circular to television stations asking them to broadcast a video calling on people to attend an anti-LGBTQ+ rally on September 18, Turkish media reported.
A video prepared to attract people to a rally that will take place in Istanbul was circulated on Turkish television as a public service ad. The video was created by a right-wing conservative group called the Yesevi Alperenler Foundation and directly targeted the LGBTQ+ community.
Şahin requested that ad be aired on television at no charge. However, according to regulations he should have deliberated with the RTÜK board before taking any such step.
RTÜK member İlhan Taşçı criticized the move on Twitter and said the chairman was inciting enmity and hatred towards the LGBTQ+ community. “Why does this rally concern you so much, Mr. Şahin?” he asked. “Your actions are completely against regulations since public service ads need to be discussed with the board before they are broadcast.”
Taşçı said Şahin was close to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and would likely broadcast pro-government ads, also against regulations, as the 2023 elections approach.
Şahin denied the claims on Twitter, saying he never sent a circular to television stations asking them to broadcast the ad, but on the RTÜK website was a recommendation to watch the video. He said Taşçı was trying to discredit RTÜK and was distorting the truth.
Although homosexuality has been legal throughout modern Turkey’s history, gay people regularly face harassment and abuse.
It is common for high-ranking officials to attack LGBTI individuals and accuse them of perversion and ruining family values.
Turkey was ranked 48th among 49 countries as regards the human rights of LGBT people, according to the 2022 Rainbow Europe Map published by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)-Europe in May.