Turkey’s Erdogan tells supporters he does not ‘recognise LGBT’ in bizarre speech

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has a history of making anti-LGBTQ+ remarks, wears a suit and tie as he holds up both his hands while speaking into a microphone

Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that he does not “recognise LGBT” before promising to fight so-called “perverse” trends in the country. 

Under Erdogan’s ruling AK Party, Turkey’s government has toughened its stance on LGBTQ+ rights in recent months and has accused the queer community of being against traditional family values. 

Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, but anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and discrimination remains rife. Many people have been detained for defiantly marching in Pride parades and in support of the LGBTQ+ community amid an increase in bigoted rhetoric from the government. 

Speaking at an AK Party congress Saturday (7 October), Erdoğan proclaimed that neither his party nor their allies would recognise the LGBTQ+ community in Turkey, Reuters reported. 

“We do not recognise LGBT. Whoever recognises LGBT can go and march with them,” he said. 

“We are members of a structure that holds the institution of family solid, that strongly embraces the family institution.

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“We will dry the roots of sneaky acts aiming to destroy our family institution by supporting perverse political, social and individual trends.”

This is not the first time Erdoğan has used his political influence to rally against the LGBTQ+ community. 

In May, ahead of Turkey’s parliamentary and presidential elections, Erdoğan proudly declared that he is “against the LGBT” because he believed “family is sacred” during a political rally. 

He also claimed that an LGBTQ+ community “will not emerge in this country” and has labelled queer people as vandals in the past. 

Just a few weeks ago, in September, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan whined about a display of what Turkey’s president described as “LGBT colours” at the United Nations. In actuality, the United Nations General Assembly was brightly and colourfully decorated to promote sustainable development goals. 

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has a history of making anti-LGBTQ+ remarks, wears a suit and tie as he holds up one hand during a political conference
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has a lengthy history of making anti-LGBTQ+ remarks. (Getty)

His anti-LGBTQ+ comments have created an atmosphere of fear for LGBTQ+ people living in Turkey

There have been reports of people being arrested for just “looking gay” and that gay foster parents had a baby taken away from them after intervention by the government. 

In September 2022, thousands took to the streets of Istanbul calling on the government to ban LGBTQ+ ‘propaganda’. The anti-LGBTQ+ march was described as the “largest demonstration of its kind in Turkey” by the Associated Press. 

ILGA-Europe tweeted that the organisers of the march had been “stirring hate against LGBTI+ people” for a while so the “risks of violence are very real”. 

In 2023, IGLA-Europe ranked Turkey among the least LGBTQ+ friendly of all 49 European nations listed on its Rainbow Map and Index. 

The group gave Turkey a measly 4 per cent in its ranking on the country’s legal and policy practices for LGBTQ+ people

In order to move up the rankings, IGLA-Europe said Turkey needed to give queer people protection under the constitution; remove obstacles to the “effective exercise of freedom of assembly and association” for LGBTQ+ groups; and ensure state protection and safety for queer human rights defenders. 

Turkey would also need to introduce hate crime laws that explicitly cover attacks against LGBTQ+ People, IGLA-Europe noted.

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