Turkey’s president Erdoğan launches shameless, brazen attack on LGBT+ kids

Turkish president Recep Erdoğan gestures. (Mustafa Kamaci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has praised young people in his party for not being LGBT+, lambasting queer youth as “vandals”.

Erdoğan made his comments during an online address to members of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Monday (1 February), according to Duvar.

Speaking to young people in Turkey, Erdoğan said: “We’ll carry our youth to the future, not as LGBT+ youth, but like the youth from this country’s glorious past.”

He continued: “You are not the LGBT+ youth. You are not the youth who vandalises, but you are those who mend those vandalised hearts.”

He went on to claim that he “respects” all views and identities as long as they are not linked to “terror, immorality, perversion and violence”.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan thinks LGBT+ people are ‘poisoning’ the youth

This is not the first time Erdoğan has spoken out against the LGBT+ community – the Turkish president has a long history of making offensive remarks about queer people.

In July 2020, he accused LGBT+ people in Turkey of “sneaking up on our national and spiritual values again” and said queer people have tried to “poison young people” throughout history.

“I invite all members of my nation to be careful and take a stand against those who exhibit all kinds of heresy that our Lord has forbidden, and those who support them,” Erdoğan said at the time.

He urged citizens to “come out against those who display any kind of perversion forbidden by God”.

He also took aim at queer allies. He said those who support “such marginal movements contrary to our faith and culture are partners in the same heresy in our eyes”.

“We will not let you step on human dignity,” he wrote. “We will protect nature and the mental health of our children.”

Erdoğan’s latest comments come just days after four students were detained and called “deviants” by Turkey’s interior minister over an artwork that reportedly depicted rainbows alongside the Kaaba, a sacred building in the centre of the Masjid al-Haram mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

The controversy erupted after Erdoğan appointed a party loyalist to a senior position at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul.

Student-led pushback erupted earlier this month, as demonstrators, many holding LGBT+ Pride flags, argued that the presidential appointment of professor Melih Bulu as rector went against the university’s 158-year-long history of electing its own.

The controversy intensified when four students reportedly laid down a piece of artwork that depicted the Kaaba alongside rainbow symbols commonly associated with the LGBT+ community. The students were later arrested for disrespecting the Kaaba.

LGBT+ people in Turkey often face violence and persecution. Erdoğan, alongside lawmakers, religious leaders, and heads of major humanitarian agencies have launched vicious attacks on queer people in the country over the course of many years.

Retail giant LC Waikiki announced earlier this year that it will ban rainbows, unicorns and other “LGBT+ images” from being used in its clothing designs.

Meanwhile, government advertising regulators launched their own clampdown by claiming rainbows “negatively affect children’s mental health” – so rainbow merchandise must come with an 18+ warning as a result.