Turkish heart surgeon immediately dismissed from hospital for saying homosexuality is a disease, echoing Turkey’s top Muslim cleric

Heart surgeon Metin Çakır

A Turkish heart surgeon in Germany has been dismissed from his job after describing homosexuality as a disease, in the same week as Turkey’s top Muslim cleric said gay people bring “illness and decay”.

According to Birgun, Metin Çakır, who worked at Karlsruhe Helios Clinic in Karlsruhe, Germany, but on Monday, April 27, he posted on Twitter: “As a doctor, I would like to state that homosexuality and transsexuality are diseases.”

The clinic fired him the next day and said: “The statements in question are in no way consistent with the principles of action at Helios.”

The comments by the heart surgeon echo statements made in his home country this week by Ali Erbaş, a top Muslim cleric in Turkey.

Erbaş, who is the head of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), gave a sermon on April 24 at the start of Ramadan.

He said: “Islam curses homosexuality. Homosexuality brings with it illnesses and decay to lineage. Let’s work together to protect people from such evil.”

Although the cleric’s inflammatory comments have been condemned by human rights groups and the Ankara Bar Association, they were also defended by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and officials within his party.

President Erdogan waded into the row in a public address on Monday, April 27, declaring that “an attack against the Diyanet chief is an attack on the state”.

He added: “What he said was totally right.”

Allies of the president within his right-wing Justice and Development Party have gone further in their attacks on LGBT+ groups, with government official Ömer Çelik praising the cleric for “defending Islamic values” and decrying the “fascist mentality” of those he claims are attacking “the most natural right for people to speak according to the value system they believe”.

It’s technically legal to be gay in Turkey, but LGBT+ people in the country have few legal rights and face extreme stigma — with Pride parades still often brutally repressed by police.