Turkish president Recep Erdoğan gestures. (Mustafa Kamaci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Turkey’s president Recep Erdoğan offered a thinly-veiled defence of a homophobic tweet from the head of the country’s largest humanitarian agency.
Erdoğan, the ruling Justice and Development Party founder, accused LGBT+ people of “sneaking up on our national and spiritual values again” and claimed queer folks “throughout human history” have been “trying to poison young people,” local media reported.
It comes after Kerem Kinik, chairman of the Red Crescent Society of Turkey, said queer people “violate health creation” in a barbed tweet that capped off Pride Month. The tweet became a lightning rod for criticism from humanitarian charities – one of which Kinik himself serves as president of.
Nevertheless, lawmakers and religious leaders alike have risen to Kimik’s defence, capturing what activists say is a Turkey where it might be legal to be gay, but hostility saturates society.
Turkish president Recep Erdoğan urges people to ‘come out against those who display any kind of perversion’.
“I invite all members of my nation to be careful and take a stand against those who exhibit all kinds of heresy that our Lord has forbidden, and those who support them,” Erdoğan said in a speech to the majority-Muslim nation.
He urged citizens to “come out against those who display any kind of perversion forbidden by God”.
He also took aim at queer allies. He said those who support “such marginal movements contrary to our faith and culture are partners in the same heresy in our eyes”.
“We will not let you step on human dignity,” he wrote. “We will protect nature and the mental health of our children.
“We’ll fight against those who violate healthy creation, who make abnormal look normal by using their power of communication and impose their paedophilic dreams cloaked as modernity on young minds. It’s not!”
Turkish Red Cross condemns its president over homophobic tweet.
Kinik’s original comments drew criticism from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), a network of charities which Kinik serves as one of five presidents.
The IFRC distanced themselves from Kinik, saying that his views do not represent those of the IFRC and that they considered them to be “both wrong and offensive”.
“The IFRC has clear code of conduct which forbids any form of homophobia, hate speech or prejudice, and all staff and representatives are bound by that code, including Dr Kinik,” they said.
The Turkish government subsequently rose to Kinik’s defence, with the Turkish presidency’s communications director tweeting that “LGBT propaganda poses a grave threat to freedom of speech”.
He said the IFRC “became complicit in that attack by targeting” Kinik, adding: “We won’t be silenced!”