LGBTQ Rights in Turkey : A Clash with Rising Family Conservatism

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LGBTQ Rights in Turkey : A Clash with Rising Family Conservatism

The Rising Emphasis on Family Values

In recent times, Turkey’s commitment to upholding family values has become more pronounced. The nation’s leadership, particularly President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has expressed concerns about perceived threats to the traditional family structure. In his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Erdogan emphasized the significance of the family institution, suggesting that its defense equates to safeguarding the future of humanity.

Erdogan’s perspective on family is deeply rooted in a conservative Muslim worldview. He firmly believes that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. Furthermore, he has often encouraged women to bear multiple children, viewing it as a means to strengthen the nation.

Controversies Surrounding LGBTQ Representation

Erdogan’s stance on LGBTQ issues has been a subject of contention. He expressed discomfort with the color scheme chosen for the U.N.’s 2023 Sustainable Development Goals, associating them with “LGBT colors.” Erdogan’s party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), has also adopted a tougher stance against the LGBTQ community over the years. The president himself has used terms like “perverts” and “deviants” to describe them, and even leveraged pro-LGBTQ accusations against opposition parties during his 2023 election campaign.

The LGBTQ Community’s Struggles

The LGBTQ community in Turkey has faced increasing challenges. Reports suggest a rise in rights violations, with instances of torture and ill-treatment becoming more frequent. The annual LGBTI+ Human Rights Report by Kaos GL, an LGBTQ rights organization, highlighted 612 cases of torture and related violations in 2022 alone.

The Istanbul LGBTQ Pride march has been consistently banned since 2015 due to security concerns. This year, the march led to the detention of at least 113 participants. The prevailing political climate has not only made life harder for the LGBTQ community but has also fueled misinformation about their existence and identities.

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The “Big Family Gathering” March

A significant event that underscores the nation’s divided stance on LGBTQ issues is the “Big Family Gathering” march. Organized by over 200 NGOs with conservative and nationalist leanings, the march called for the closure of LGBTQ associations in Turkey. The organizers believe that the LGBTQ lifestyle leads to various societal issues, including drug addiction and mental health problems.

Interestingly, the march received support from international figures like Alexander Dugin, a Russian ultranationalist political theorist. Dugin’s message emphasized the importance of resisting the normalization of LGBTQ lifestyles, suggesting that it’s not just a religious issue but a broader societal concern.

The Future of LGBTQ Rights in Turkey

The Turkish government’s approach to LGBTQ rights is evolving. Recently, the Minister of National Education, Yusuf Tekin, proposed an elective course titled “The Family in Turkish Society” as an anti-LGBTQ measure. He emphasized the need to nurture a generation that upholds the country’s values and traditions.

Furthermore, the AKP is preparing a constitutional amendment that seeks to define the family as a union between a man and a woman, effectively eliminating the possibility of legal same-sex marriages in the future.


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