Less than two weeks before elections, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has increased his accusations against the opposition, claiming once again that his rival Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and opposition parties are pro-LGBT and that they undermine the sanctity of the family, Turkish media outlets reported on Wednesday.
Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition 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.
Erdoğan leveled his accusations during an election rally in his Black Sea hometown of Rize on Wednesday, describing the LGBT community as a “perverted structure.”
“My [supporters] believe in the sanctity of the family. … Ask him [Kılıçdaroğlu] why perverted structures like LGBT are begging for votes for him. Mr. Kemal, we know he is pro-LGBT. İYİ Party, we know [that about] you, too. … All those in the same [alliance] … and the [pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party] HDP are pro-LGBT. [The ruling Justice and Development Party] AKP has no such problem,” the president said in Rize.
Bay Bay Kemal, LGBT’ci olduğunu biliyoruz. pic.twitter.com/XIf4iq0JO7
— Onedio (@onediocom) May 3, 2023
In addition to the CHP and the nationalist İYİ (Good) Party, the opposition’s Nation Alliance also includes the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), the Future Party (GP), the Democrat Party (DP) and the Felicity Party (SP). DEVA and the GP were founded by former AKP heavyweights.
President Erdoğan’s Public Alliance, however, includes 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 Hizbullah, in addition to the ruling AKP.
Erdoğan’s remarks came after he made similar accusations during a speech in the western province of Bursa on April 24.
“Don’t listen to these LGBT people. You shouldn’t stand against the family,” Erdoğan told the crowd, referring to the opposition parties.
According to a report by LGBT+ advocacy group KAOS GL, the country’s LGBT community feels threatened under the AKP government.
In a speech two weeks after hundreds of people attended an anti-LGBT rally on Sept. 25 in İstanbul, Erdoğan said, answering a call from dozens of conservative associations, that they would “do what is necessary” about the LGBT community, which he accused of “trying to cause our family structure to deteriorate.”
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.