Turkey president makes troubling anti-LGBTQ+ remarks at re-election rally

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Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan holding a microphone.
Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan holding a microphone. Twitter: @RTErdogan

On Saturday, April 29, the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, made troubling anti-LGBTQ+ remarks to crowds gathered in the Aegean city of Izmir. The comments came as part of an hour-long speech at a re-election campaign rally and align with his cabinet’s increasing hostility towards the queer community.

According to translators, Erdoğan addressed onlookers, stating: “In this nation, the foundations of the family are stable. LGBT will not emerge in this country.

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

This was the 69-year-old’s first appearance since being temporarily forced off the campaign trail due to ill health. Before his three-day absence, the president accused opposition parties in Turkey of being “pro-LGBT” and urged younger adults to avoid voting for them. Additionally, on Saturday, referring to the supporters of the main Kurdish party, HDP, he said: “We will give the terrorists the answer at the ballot box”.

Presidential elections are due to take place on May 14, alongside parliamentary elections. It is estimated that a total of 64 million people will vote, and the successful candidate will serve a term of five years.

Erdoğan has held office since 2014, with his government and followers increasingly employing anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric in recent times. While homosexuality has been decriminalised in the nation, same-sex marriage, adoption, surrogacy and IVF are all illegal, as is serving in the military as an openly gay or lesbian person. Furthermore, queer people are not protected against discrimination in employment, education, housing, healthcare, public accommodations or credit.

Pride events in Istanbul have been banned since 2015, but defiant protestors continue to march despite attacks from authorities. In 2022, dozens of LGBTQ+ people were allegedly detained for peacefully demonstrating, while in 2021, participants were targeted with rubber bullets and tear gas, with 25 arrests being made.

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