Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday he did not “recognize LGBT” and vowed to combat “perverse” trends which he said aimed to destroy the institution of family in the country.
Turkey’s government, led by Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AK Party, has toughened its stance on LGBTQ freedoms in recent months, particularly while campaigning for this year’s elections in May.
Homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, but hostility to it is widespread, and police crackdowns on Pride parades have become tougher over the years.
Speaking at an AK Party congress in Ankara, Erdogan, who has frequently labeled members of the LGBTQ community as “deviants,” said neither his party, nor their nationalist MHP allies, recognized the LGBTQ community.
“We do not recognize LGBT. Whoever recognizes LGBT can go and march with them. We are members of a structure that holds the institution of family solid, that strongly embraces the family institution,” he said.
“We will dry the roots of sneaky acts aiming to destroy our family institution by supporting perverse political, social and individual trends,” he told tens of thousands of flag-waving and chanting supporters.
After the United Nations General Assembly in New York last month, Erdogan complained that he was uncomfortable with the use of what he described as “LGBT colors” at the U.N., which at the time was decorated with bright colors promoting the Sustainable Development Goals.