Turkey’s president Erdoğan claims ‘LGBT will not emerge in this country’ at re-election rally

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has continued his re-election campaign by giving an anti-LGBTQ+ speech.

Erdoğan returned to campaigning on Saturday (29 April) after stepping back for three days while recovering from a stomach infection, ahead of Turkish citizens going to the polls on 14 May.

According to a Times report, in an hour-long speech in the coastal city of Izmir, he said: “In this nation, the foundations of the family are stable. LGBT will not emerge in this country.”

Erdoğan added: “Stand up straight, like a man: that is how our families are.”

Holding the office of Turkish president since 2014, the 69-year-old has repeatedly spoken out against LGBTQ+ people.

Just days before he was forced off the campaign trail due to illness, Erdoğan accused all opposition parties of being “pro-LGBT” and urged young voters to steer away from them, local press agency Bianet reported.

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He claimed the People’s Alliance, an electoral group that includes his Justice and Development Party, was walking on the path of the ‘holy family’.

Erdoğan’s government and its supporters have increasingly employed anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric in recent years – often citing family values, as was the case on Saturday.

Anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment has been evidence in the wider community too, including a major protest in Istanbul which saw thousands of people participate in a March call for the government to ban what they called “LGBTQ+ propaganda”.

People carried signs calling for the closure of LGBTQ+ groups and citing “protecting the family” as a national security issue.

In 2021, Erdoğan labelled queer youth as “vandals” while praising young people in his party for not being LGBTQ+.

Last March, Twitter took the step of flagging tweets by Turkey’s interior minister, Süleyman Soylu, for hateful conduct after he called young protesters “LGBT+ perverts”. Soylu has also previously described LGBTQ+ rights as “terrorist propaganda”.

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