Turkey’s Erdoğan denies existence of LGBT community

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday dismissed the existence of the LGBT while speaking at a provincial congress for his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Erdoğan said Turkey was marching forward with “national, spiritual values,’’ adding that the country’s youth was not LGBT.

 “There is no such thing as LGBT,” T24 news site cited him as saying.

“Ours is a youth that continues on its way, straight up, hand-in-hand with all their police officers,” the Turkish president added.

Erdoğan’s comments on the much discriminated against community arrive after he slammed main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for supporting Boğaziçi University students, who Erdoğan called terrorists, amid the fifth week of protests at the country’s top university that has resulted in dozens of detentions during demonstrations on Tuesday.

“We don’t accept these young people as the youth of our country who truly embody national and spiritual values. Indeed, are you students, or are you terrorists who raid the rector’s offices and attempt to occupy it?” the president asked.

Erdoğan continued to accuse Kılıçdaroğlu of “walking on a path with your terrorist friends,” and said he and his party had “not stood with terrorists, and we will not.”

On Tuesday, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said 79 students who had been detained in earlier demonstrations had been members of terrorist organisations.

“Out of those detained in Boğaziçi University, 108 people are not Boğaziçi students, and 79 people are terrorists,” Soylu said. “I am obliged to announce these to the public. When I explain things to the people, they say I talk too much.”

“There is no excess here,” Soylu said. “Do rector elections have to be so democratic? No. We look at the outcome.”

“In the past, faculty members elected rectors. As that was very wrong in my opinion, President Erdoğan took the matter in his own hands,’’ Soylu said. “So, students had no say in the past, and have none today. It is clear where faculty members have dragged the academy.”

Soylu also said there were no LGBT elements in “our culture”, and that the concept had been imported from the West.

“Is there such a thing as LGBT in our past? Is it there and we just don’t know? These are things that happen in the West,” Soylu said. “In my faith, LGBT+ is deviant.”

Soylu accused LGBT students of provoking Muslims.

“This could tear down our family structure,” Soylu said. “They are supported by foreign powers to tear Turkey apart.”

Ahead of the Nov. 2002 elections, when the AKP first came into power, Erdoğan had attended a debate show called the Young Outlook and spoke in favour of LGBT rights.

“It is imperative for homosexuals to have their rights guaranteed under the law, in the framework of their own rights and freedoms,” Erdoğan had said. “We don’t think the treatment they receive, which we sometimes see on televisions, is humane, to begin with.”

At the time, transgender sex workers would often find themselves on the news under headlines such as “Transvestite Terrorism”, referring to disputes over money or harassment as they fought with clients along Istanbul’s highways, and a police chief notorious for torturing transgender women, Süleyman “The Hose” Ulusoy, was still on duty in the Beyoğlu district.


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