Turkey says gay rights activists prompted it to withdraw from Istanbul Convention

Turkey withdrew from the Istanbul Convention on women’s rights after attempts by gay rights activists to normalise homosexuality, which contravenes social values, the Turkish Presidency’s Directorate of Communications said on Sunday.

Quitting the convention does not mean that Turkey will compromise the protection of women, the directorate said on its website.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pulled Turkey out of the agreement via an executive order on Friday night. The decision sparked heavy criticism by Turkey’s Western allies and protests across the country.

“The Istanbul Convention, originally intended to promote women’s rights, was hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalize homosexuality – which is incompatible with Türkiye’s social and family values. Hence the decision to withdraw,” the directorate said.

Turkey will fight against domestic violence with zero tolerance and will enact reforms as a part of a human rights action plan unveiled in early March, it said.

Turkey, among the first signatories of the landmark convention, has seen an escalation in violence against women and LGBT people. Particularly violent murders of several women shook the country in the summer and fall of last year.

The government blamed LGBT activists for organising protests in universities across the country in January. It labelled them as “LGBT deviants”.

At least 33 women were murdered in Turkey in February at the hands of men, most of them intimate partners or close family members.  Another 57 women were assaulted and there were 104 cases of women being forced into prostitution, according to a report by news website Bianet.