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Gays not welcome in Turkiye

REUTERS/Umit Bektas

The Turkish leader vowed to protect “sacred” family values in his victory speech on Sunday

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who portrays himself as a defender of traditional Islamic values, has once again labeled the opposition as ‘LGBT’, and insisted that liberal Western ideology will never infiltrate his ruling party or its nationalist allies.

Türkiye’s Supreme Election Council confirmed Erdogan’s decisive victory over Kemal Kilicdaroglu on Sunday evening.

In the run-up to the election, Erdogan repeatedly accused Kilicdaroglu and his allies of being pro-LGBT, and voiced similar charges in his victory speech in front of a jubilant crowd in Istanbul.

Listing off the factions in his rival’s six-party National Alliance bloc, and a pro-Kurdish political party, he asked supporters if they agreed that CHP, HDP, IYI, and “some little guys next to them” are all “LGBT,” to the rousing cheers of the crowd. 

“But can LGBT infiltrate the AK Party? Can it infiltrate the MHP? Can it infiltrate other members of the People’s Alliance?” Erdogan asked rhetorically – proclaiming that his ruling coalition and its allies will always stand in defense of traditional Turkish values.

“Every election is a rebirth for us. Family is sacred to us. No one can speak out against the family. Violence against women is forbidden, it is haram,” he said.

Kilicdaroglu is not an outspoken supporter of gay rights, but has promised to reinstate the Istanbul Convention if elected. Signed by 45 countries plus the EU in 2011, the convention aimed to strengthen legal penalties for violence against women.

Türkiye withdrew from it in 2021, stating that it had been “hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalize homosexuality.” This was likely a reference to the treaty’s listing of transgender women, who are biologically male, as women.

Many officials in Erdogan’s conservative government view LGBTQ ideology as an American and European “religion” that is alien to Turkish morals.

“They are trying to… ungender the whole of our society under the name of LGBT,” Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said in February. At a rally in April, Erdogan said young people should “not look at these LGBTs” and “not oppose marriage.”

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