Turkish interior minister under pressure of ‘gay lobby,’ says pro-gov’t outlet

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu was censored on Twitter due to pressure from the  “gay lobby” after two of the his tweets were flagged by the social media giant, pro-government Turkish news outlet Haber Vaktim said on Tuesday.

A group of gay Twitter users filed complaints about Soylu’s tweets, according to the outlet.

On Jan. 30, Soylu announced the detention of Boğaziçi University students with a tweet that read, “Four LGBT deviants who carried out the disrespectful (act) against Kaaba al-Muazzama in Boğaziçi University have been detained!”

The minister used the phrase, “LGBT deviants” again in a tweet he posted on Tuesday, accusing the university’s LGBT community of insulting the Islam’s holiest site and attempting to occupy the rectory building.

“Should we tolerate LGBT deviants?” Soylu asked.

Both tweets can be viewed only after clicking “View” on a notice that reads, “This tweet violated the Twitter Rules about hateful conduct. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

Soylu’s recent comments came after Turkish President Erdoğan praised his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) youth wing for not being LGBT in a speech on Monday, while a union for Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) workers said “homosexuality isn’t a human right” on the same day, following Diyanet head Ali Erbaş condemning Boğaziçi students for disrespecting Kaaba last week.

Meanwhile, several Boğaziçi faculty members told news website Duvar on Tuesday that Melih Bulu, Boğaziçi’s rector who was recently appointed to his post without an election by the Turkish president, sparking weeks of protests, had changed the locks to the LGBT club in the university.

The shared locale of the women’s studies and LGBT clubs had been searched by the police last Friday, and its lock had been changed on Bulu’s orders afterwards, Boğaziçi faculty Olcay Akyıldız, Cemre Baytok, Can Candan and Feyzi Erçin said in a statement cited by Duvar.

Club member students and faculty weren’t shown the minutes from the police search, and were only told that the officers had not caused any damage inside.

Representatives and faculty advisors of the two clubs won’t be given the new keys, the academics said. “No reason is cited for this except for Melih Bulu wanting so.” They continued, “The Presidential Communications Director shared a document signed by Melih Bulu on Twitter saying the club had been shut down, but we haven’t received any official communications.”

Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun tweeted a document on Monday, saying the most recent protests had been sparked by a decision to shut down the LGBTI Studies club.

According to lawyer Levent Pişkin, the document Altun shared was forged.

“Even the investigation number is wrong,” Pişkin said in a tweet. “And the ones under investigation are members of the Fine Arts Club, not the LGBTI+.”