‘Go to Holland’ is the bizarre new homophobic slur in Turkey after Muslim cleric curses LGBT+ people

Ali Erbaş: Turkish cleric who called gays 'evil' escapes investigation

Turkish homophobes have added a strange new slur to their vocabulary: “Yallah Hollandaya”, which translates to “Go to Holland”.

The hashtag #YallahHollandaya began trending on Turkish Twitter after Ali Erbaş, the director of the Turkish institute for religious affairs (Diyanet), publicly declared that “Islam curses homosexuality”.

“What wisdom is behind this? That it brings diseases and leads to population decline,” he said in a sermon to mark the beginning of Ramadan.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are exposed annually to the HIV virus, which is caused by this great haram, known as adultery in Islamic literature. Let’s fight together to protect people from this kind of evil.”

The popular sermon was broadcast online and spread through social media, sparking a homophobic hashtag that was trending until Monday.

According to Dutch media, “Go to Holland” has been used before, but never by so many. It was joined by the hashtag #AliErbasyanlizdegil (Ali Erbaş is not alone).

Although Erbaş didn’t actually mention the Netherlands at any point in his broadcast, the country is commonly linked with homosexuality in Turkey, probably because it was the first to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001.

Turkish cleric Ali Erbaş

Turkish cleric Ali Erbaş (Official photo: Directorate of Religious Affairs)

Turkish LGBT+ advocate Yildiz Tur told NRC said it was “frightening” that a senior minister was “openly attack[ing]” the LGBT+ community and linking homosexuality with HIV.

“Many death threats are made under the hashtag #YallahHollandaya,” he said, noting that the sermon carried a lot of weight as it was given at the beginning of Ramadan.

The fact that Erbaş’ homophobia was explicitly supported by Turkey’s president Erdogan makes it all the more concerning.

“What he said was totally right,” Erdogan said in a public address on Monday, declaring that “an attack against the Diyanet chief is an attack on the state.”

Erdogan’s government has overseen many human rights abuses against LGBT+ people, despite homosexuality being technically legal in Turkey.

The Turkish LGBT+ community have few legal rights and face extreme stigma – with Pride parades still often brutally repressed by police.