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90 pct of LGBT individuals in Turkey subjected to digital violence, research shows

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LGBT advocacy group KAOS GL has released a report that revealed that nine out of 10 LGBT individuals in Turkey regularly face digital violence, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.

Based on a survey of 305 participants as well as in-depth interviews conducted with 10 people, the report was prepared in collaboration with the South Africa-based Association for Progressive Communications (APC).

The report cited previous research on digital violence in the general population, which had found that one in five people in Turkey was a victim of it, concluding that the likelihood of being targeted significantly increases when it comes to the LGBT community.

While the perpetrators are generally anonymous users on the internet, in cases where their identity is known, they are usually people from the victims’ social environment such as friends, family members and partners, or public figures such as politicians, journalists and academics.

Social media platforms X, formerly known as Twitter, and Instagram are the most important venues of digital violence.

According to the report, abuses on the internet cause significant harm to the mental health of LGBT individuals, who often resort to self-censorship out of their lack of confidence in remedial mechanisms.

Although homosexuality has been legal throughout modern Turkey’s history, gay people regularly face harassment and abuse.

In recent years LGBT events have been prohibited, including Istanbul Pride, which was banned in 2014 after taking place every year since 2003.

Authorities suspended the scholarships of students who attended an LGBT parade two years ago.

Turkey was ranked 48th among 49 countries as regards the human rights of LGBT people, according to the 2022 Rainbow Europe Map published by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)-Europe in May.

In a controversial sermon in April 2020 Ali Erbaş, the head of Turkey’s top religious authority, the Diyanet, which runs mosques and appoints imams, claimed that homosexuality caused HIV and that all the evil and pandemics in the world are caused by homosexuality.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stood behind Erbaş’s remarks targeting the LGBT community at the time. Government officials also engaged in hateful rhetoric against the community in the run-up to this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

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