Turkey’s LGBT+ under increasing government pressure, report reveals

A recent report by the LGBT+ advocacy group KAOS GL has revealed that Turkey’s LGBT+ community is feeling increasingly threatened under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

The report, “Despite Everything: LGBT+ Human Rights in 2021,” was based on data collected from 2007 to 2021 and documented human rights violations and discrimination against the LGBT+ community.

According to the report, discrimination of the LGBT+ community was very common. In 2021 there were eight documented hate crimes, while the real number is thought to be much higher. Last year, LGBT+ individuals were frequently targeted by the government as high-ranking government officials publicly said they were damaging Turkish social and family values.

Moreover, during demonstrations police used disproportionate force while detaining LGBT+ individuals. The report said, however, that the LGBT+ individuals who were interviewed said they would not be deterred by police brutality and would continue demonstrating.

Speaking to the Duvar news website, lawyer Kerem Dikmen said authorities tried to prevent LGBT+ people from attending events organized by other groups, such as the women’s march, and immediately intervened if they saw a rainbow flag or any other LGBT+ symbol during a demonstration.

“Since the government openly condemns the LGBT+ community, it is very difficult for individuals to file a complaint when confronted with mistreatment or discrimination,” Dikmen said. “Even if they do file a complaint, in most cases there is never a result.”

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

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

Authorities suspended the scholarships of students who attended an LGBT parade last year.

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

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

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