Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, known for his anti-LGBTQ statements, has promised to do away with a haircare products commercial that he accuses of promoting LGBTQ propaganda.
Soylu, a parliamentary candidate from İstanbul for the May 14 parliamentary elections, talked about a recent commercial put out by Urban Care haircare products during an election meeting in Gaziosmanpaşa on Tuesday.
In the commercial the products are praised for their natural ingredients, and women answer the question, “How natural is your haircare?” A working woman says it is as natural as her concentrating on her career, while another woman, who goes out at night with her friends, says it is as natural as women hanging out together.
Soylu said the commercial, which can also be seen on billboards at bus stops in İstanbul, is promoting LGBTQ propaganda by showing romantic relationships between women as natural.
“Can there be such a thing? Look, this is the point they want to bring Turkey to,” he said, accusing the opposition of spreading LGBTQ propaganda.
Soylu said he talked to the trade minister about the commercial and that it will be banned.
He said such a commercial, which he said aims to ruin the morals and values of society, is unacceptable.
The minister said the opposition’s presidential candidate, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, is promising to welcome the sexual orientation of every person and that same-sex marriages will be allowed if he is elected president.
Unlike President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and members of his government, Kılıçdaroğlu avoids using discriminatory language against LGBTQ people and dehumanizing them. He promises to expand freedoms for all people in the country, although he did not make any promise to legalize same-sex marriages in Turkey.
Kılıçdaroğlu, the joint presidential candidate of an opposition alliance, is challenging Erdoğan, who is seeking reelection in the presidential election on May 14.
Soylu also said in December 2021 that LGBTQ foundations in the country are receiving a significant amount of foreign funding but that they are still unable to corrupt Turkish family values.
He also referred to gay people as “deranged.”
In a recent speech Erdoğan also accused Kılıçdaroğlu and opposition parties of being pro-LGBTQ and undermining the family.
“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 a campaign speech in the western province of Bursa.
According to a report by LGBT+ advocacy group KAOS GL, the country’s LGBT+ community feel threatened under the AKP government.
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.
In 2021, the government withdrew from the Istanbul Convention on protecting women’s rights, claiming it encouraged homosexuality and threatened the traditional family structure.