Turkey second worst country in Europe for LGBT - index

Turkey ranked the second worst country in the European Union for LGBT people, according the 2021 “Rainbow Europe” ranking compiled by Brussels-based NGO advocating for LGBT rights, ILGA-Europe.

A total of 49 countries were ranked in the index, which factors in both the “social climate’’ and the legal situation for LGBT people, with Turkey scoring above only Azerbaijan.

Malta, Belgium and Luxembourg led this year’s ranking with 94, 74 and 72 percent, respectively, while Monaco (11 percent), Russia (10 percent), Armenia (eight percent), Turkey (four percent) and Azerbaijan (two percent), occupied the bottom of the index.

The report highlighted incidents and campaigns of hate speech in Turkey targeting the group this year, with public figures “blaming LGBT people or gay men for the COVID-19 pandemic, and for spreading other illnesses.’’

In April, the head of Turkey’sDirectorate of Religious Affairs, the country’s top religious body, called on people to “oppose the illnesses and decay to lineage“ brought on by the “evil” of homosexuality.

Earlier this year, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu called LGBT students at Istanbul’s prestigious Boğaziçi University and LGBT community at large “deviants”, while President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has outright denied the existence of LGBT persons in the country.

The report also covered restrictions on freedom of assembly and attacks targeting LGBTI human rights defenders and their work. 

“Police used tear gas and other violent measures against participants of the women’s rights march, and forcibly took LGBTI flags from those marching,’’ it said, referring to a March 4 protest marking International Women’s Day.

Later in the same month, four students from Istanbul’s prestigious Boğaziçi University were detained by the police for possession of rainbow flags, Turkish media reported.

Being LGBT has never been criminalised under the modern Turkish republic, but LGBT-focused events have been banned in the country since 2015, after the Istanbul Pride attracted some 100,000 participants in 2014.