The head of the Turkish state’s ministry for religious affairs Ali Erbas used his powerful platform to stoke homophobia on Tuesday in the Muslim-majority country. At a conference in the city of Konya, he declared same-sex relations as “heresy” and “propaganda.” He told attendees at the conference that “It is the duty of all of us to educate, raise awareness, and protect our children and young people against deviant understandings.” Erbas attacked the pro-LGBT Christopher Street Day parades in his anti-gay speech.
Erbas said that the “concept of accepting homosexuality” contradicts the creation process because “women will no longer want to be mothers and men will no longer want to be fathers.” The Islamist theologian, who has led the ministry of religious affairs (Diyanet) since 2017, added the homosexuality “destroys families and disregards moral values with concepts such as freedom and pride.”
Erbas’s target was the origin of the modern LGBT movement, which began as a revolt against police harassment 50 years ago in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan. The protest that started in the Stonewall bar on Christopher Street appears to have sparked Erbas’s anger at the LGBT community. Since 1970, there have been Christopher Street Day celebrations across the world to advance LGBT rights and show pride.
LGBT and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told The Jerusalem Post that, “These hateful comments by Turkey’s chief Islamic theologian, and confident of President Erdogan, suggest that the regime’s official ‘security’ excuse for banning Pride parades is influenced by Islamist homophobia. It is a cover for deep-seated anti-LGBT+ intolerance.”
Tatchell added that, “The cleric is a total homophobe and hypocrite. He rightly condemns anti-Muslim prejudice but then spouts vile bigotry against LGBT+ people. He is an Islamist extremist who is a menace to democracy, human rights and equality.”
Volker Beck, a German Green party politician and LGBT activist, blasted Erbas on Twitter, stating that he is spreading “propaganda that justifies the repression of Istanbul Pride” and that his language is “an attack on the human rights of LGBTs.”
Konya, a large city in Central Anatolia where Erbas spoke, is the seventh largest metropolis in Turkey. Over 2 million people live in Konya. Turkey’s LGBT community has suffered heavily under Turkey’s Islamic president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In late June, Erdogan’s government used tear gas against LBGT activists marching in Istanbul. Turkey’s authorities have canceled the last five Christopher Street Day marches in Istanbul.
Turkey’s LGBT community has suffered heavily under Turkey’s Islamic president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In late June, Erdogan’s government used tear gas against LBGT activists involved in a march in Istanbul. Turkey’s authorities have cancelled the last five Christopher Street Day marches in Istanbul.
Benjamin Weinthal is a European correspondent at The Jerusalem Post and a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.