General News

Turkish president condemns LGBTQ+ youth

Rachel Badham February 4, 2021

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the anti-LGBTQ+ president of Turkey, has condemned queer youth following the arrest of four students for creating artwork depicting a sacred Islamic site alongside rainbow symbols. The students were arrested amid protests at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, after they laid down a poster which showed the Kaaba (the most sacred site in Islam) alongside LGBTQ+ rainbows. The Istanbul governor’s office said the artwork was an “ugly attack” that “mocked religious beliefs”.

According to Republic World, Erdogan responded to the incident, saying LGBTQ+ youth are vandals and do not represent the national image he wishes to maintain: “We will carry our young people to the future, not as the LGBT youth, but as the youth that existed in our nation’s glorious past. You are not the LGBT youth, not the youth who commit acts of vandalism. On the contrary, you are the ones who repair broken hearts.”

Erdogan has a history of anti-LGBTQ+ policies, having banned Istanbul Pride five years in a row. Although same-sex relations are legal in the country, LGBTQ+ people have reported facing widespread discrimination, harassment and violence. In 2020, Erdogan accused LGBTQ+ people of “sneaking up on our national and spiritual values” and trying to “poison young people”. He encouraged Turkish authorities and citizens to oppose any tolerance towards queer people: “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.”

A Pride parade in Turkey