Police in Turkey detained dozens of people who assembled outside a courthouse Friday in a show of solidarity with 12 students who were taken into custody for unfurling rainbow flags, according to Turkish news reports. The detentions came amid growing government intolerance toward the LGBT community
Students and faculty at Istanbul’s prestigious Bogazici University have been demonstrating regularly since January against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s appointment of a new rector who has links Turkey's ruling party. Police and protesters have clashed several times.
The 12 students were detained Thursday after they displayed the flags of the LGBT rights movements during a protest. They were denouncing the rector’s appointment as well as Erdogan’s decision to pull Turkey out of a European pact that aims to protect women against violence. Government officials have argued that the Istanbul Convention “normalizes homosexuality.”
-Turkey’s LGBTQ community at risk amid rise in homophobic rhetoric
ISTANBUL — A barrage of homophobic rhetoric has put Turkey’s already vulnerable LGBTQ community at risk, tarnishing what’s left of the country’s image as a relatively open Muslim society that has provided shelter for persecuted gays and lesbians from across the region.
In recent months, a spate of slurs has emanated from the highest echelons of power: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has suggested gay people are perverts, a senior public health official compared them to pedophiles, and the top imam warned they spread disease. Even Netflix is in the firing line, with Turkish regulators pressuring the streaming service to cancel a series with a gay character.
Activists see it as part of a wider curtailing of rights in Turkey. The government, emboldened after repelling a 2016 military coup, has jailed thousands of Kurdish politicians, human rights defenders, lawyers and other opponents.
In June, Erdoğan warned that “insidious attacks” on Turkey’s traditional values were akin to a national security threat. “Some people seek to normalize perversions that have been condemned throughout human history to poison young minds,” he said in a televised speech, urging Turks to “take a stand against those who display heresies that our Lord has forbidden.”
His remarks came after the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) condemned the homophobia in a since-deleted tweet by one of its vice presidents, Kerem Kınık, who also heads Turkey’s Red Crescent. Kınık vowed to fight those who “portray the abnormal as normal and inject pedophilic fantasies into young minds as if it were modernity.”
After a senior adviser to Erdoğan accused the IFRC of attempting to “silence” Turkey with “LGBT propaganda,” the humanitarian organization’s tweet also appears to have been deleted