Following his re-election as president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wasted no time targeting the LGBTQ+ community with his divisive rhetoric.
Erdoğan, who has held the presidency since 2014, secured another five-year term after the votes were counted, giving him a clear victory over his opponent, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Speaking to his supporters in Istanbul, Erdoğan expressed his gratitude for being entrusted with governing for another five years. However, he immediately launched into a diatribe against what he referred to as “LGBT forces,” suggesting that queer individuals would not be able to infiltrate his party.
He emphasised the sanctity of the family in Turkish culture and declared his intention to suppress anyone who challenges it, stating, “No one can interfere. We will strangle anyone who dares to touch it.”
Erdoğan’s re-election received congratulations from world leaders, including Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin, Rishi Sunak, and Emmanuel Macron. However, the opposition Republican People’s Party headquarters had a different atmosphere, with Kılıçdaroğlu describing the Turkish government as “authoritarian” and decrying the unfairness of the election process.
This is not the first time Erdoğan has exhibited anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments. Throughout his presidency and re-election campaign, he has made derogatory comments about the LGBTQ+ community. In April, during a rally in Izmir, he declared that LGBTQ+ people would not emerge in Turkey, asserting the stability of the traditional family structure in the nation. In previous instances, he referred to LGBTQ+ youth as “vandals” and stated that he only respects views and identities that are not associated with “terror, immorality, perversion, and violence.”
The rise of anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in Turkey has been a cause for concern in recent years. Pride parades have been banned, and LGBTQ+ individuals have reported feeling afraid for their future. Tensions peaked in September 2022 when thousands took to the streets of Istanbul to protest against LGBTQ+ “propaganda.” The march, described as the largest in Turkey, demonstrated the growing divide between the government and advocates for LGBTQ+ rights.
Erdoğan’s re-election and his ongoing anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric reflect the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community in Turkey. Despite the strides made globally in LGBTQ+ rights, Turkey appears to be taking steps backwards, serving as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done to achieve full equality for all.
Last Updated on Jun 1, 2023