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Erdoğan hints at anti-LGBT constitutional amendment to corner opposition

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Friday that a push by the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) to guarantee headscarf freedom in law was not enough and that amending the constitution to also enshrine “family values” that exclude LGBT people would test the CHP leader’s sincerity, in an apparent move to force the opposition to choose between a pro-LGBT or a “pro-tradition” position.

Erdoğan on Wednesday proposed amending the constitution to guarantee a woman’s right to wear a headscarf after the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) introduced a bill on Tuesday to do the same, in a move to counter an apparent attempt by the CHP to corner Erdoğan’s Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

Answering journalists’ questions while returning from a visit to Czechia, Erdoğan said the preparations for a constitutional amendment are underway and that he had also discussed the matter with Devlet Bahçeli, his ally and leader of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Erdoğan said the amendment would also enshrine “family values.”

“The concept of family is indispensable for us. A strong family is a prerequisite for a strong nation. We also need to work on this. They have recently introduced LGBT into society. Together with LGBT, they have tried to cause our family structure to deteriorate. So we will do what’s necessary,” Erdoğan said, adding that this would show who is pro-LGBT to the public.

“Let us see what position he [CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu] will take here,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying.

Erdoğan’s remarks came two weeks after hundreds of people attended an anti-LGBT rally on Sept. 25 in İstanbul, answering a call from dozens of conservative associations.

Although homosexuality was decriminalized by the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor of modern Turkey, in 1858, it is widely frowned upon by large swathes of society, including Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), while same-sex couples are not legal.

One minister previously referred to gay people as “deranged.”

Last year, the government withdrew from the Istanbul Convention on protecting women’s rights, claiming it encouraged homosexuality and threatened the traditional family structure.

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