Turkish President Erdoğan targets LGBTQ in parliamentary speech

Turkish President and leader of Justice and Development Party (AKP), Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks during his ruling AKP's group meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNAT), in Ankara, on May 26, 2021. Adem ALTAN / AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a parliamentary speech on Wednesday once again targeted the LGBTQ community, Turkish media reported. 

Erdoğan referred to the LGBTQ community as an “evil” and said the opposition was endorsed by the evil and other terrorist organizations. “You are trying to legitimize this [LGBTQ] evil,” he said in a speech addressing the opposition. “You and those who support you are also LGBTQ. However, neither the Justice and Development Party (AKP) nor the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has such evil in their ranks.”

Top officials from the ruling AKP government have been continuously targeting the LGBTQ community, with discriminatory speech escalating before the May 14 elections. 

Erdoğan’s campaign was based on claims that the opposition was collaborating with terrorists and would grant rights to LGBTQ people.

Earlier this month Erdoğan said his government was working on drafting an anti-LGBTQ constitutional amendment to enshrine the family. He said they would take every step to protect the family from perversion, implying that same-sex relationships were detrimental to the Turkish family structure. 

He repeated once again that the opposition and leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu were pro-LGBTQ and therefore a threat to the country. 

Speaking to the media, LGBTQ people said they felt threatened under the Erdoğan regime and that same-sex relationships would eventually be criminalized. 

Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, but homophobia is widespread. 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.

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