Ankara, Turkey – In a recent address at an AK Party congress in Ankara, Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan made a firm statement, declaring that he did not “recognise LGBT” and pledged to combat what he referred to as “perverse” trends that he believed aimed to undermine the institution of family in the country. Erdogan’s government, led by his Islamist-rooted AK Party, has taken a tougher stance on LGBTQ freedoms in recent months, particularly during the campaign leading up to this year’s elections in May.
While homosexuality is not criminalized in Turkey, there remains widespread hostility towards it, and police crackdowns on Pride parades have grown increasingly severe over the years. Erdogan, who has frequently used derogatory language to label LGBTQ community members as “deviants,” stated unequivocally that neither his party nor their nationalist MHP allies recognized the LGBTQ community.
“We do not recognize LGBT. Whoever recognizes LGBT can go and march with them. We are members of a structure that upholds the institution of family firmly, a structure that strongly embraces the family institution,” Erdogan asserted. He also added, “We will root out any subversive actions aimed at destroying our family institution by supporting perverse political, social, and individual trends,” addressing a massive crowd of flag-waving and chanting supporters.
Erdogan’s remarks come on the heels of his discomfort with the use of what he described as “LGBT colors” at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where the U.N. was adorned with bright colors promoting the Sustainable Development Goals. Turkey’s approach to LGBTQ rights continues to raise concerns both domestically and internationally, highlighting the ongoing struggle for LGBTQ acceptance and inclusion in the country.