Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and opposition parties of being pro-LGBT and undermining the family, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing local media.
Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the joint presidential candidate of an opposition bloc of six parties, is one of two main contenders in Turkey’s presidential election on May 14, with the other being the country’s current president, Erdoğan.
“Don’t listen to these LGBT people. You shouldn’t stand against the family. The CHP is pro-LGBT, the İYİ [Good] Party is pro-LGBT and the HDP [Peoples’ Democratic Party] is pro-LGBT. The Public Alliance believes in the sanctity of the family,” Erdoğan said during speech on Monday in the western province of Bursa.
President Erdoğan’s Public Alliance includes the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the nationalist Grand Unity Party (BBP), the New Welfare Party (YRP) and the Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR). the radical Islamist and political arm of Kurdish Hizbullah.
According to a report by LGBT+ advocacy group KAOS GL, the country’s LGBT+ community feel threatened under the AKP government.
“The concept of family is indispensable to 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 [opposition parties] have tried to cause our family structure to deteriorate. So we will do what’s necessary,” Erdoğan said in October, adding that this would show the public who is pro-LGBT.
Erdoğan’s remarks came two weeks after hundreds of people attended an anti-LGBT rally on September 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 swaths of society, including Erdoğan’s ruling AKP, while same-sex couples are not legal.
One minister referred to gay people as “deranged.”
In 2021, the government withdrew from the Istanbul Convention on protecting women’s rights, claiming it encouraged homosexuality and threatened the traditional family structure.