AKP mayor resorts to homophobic discourse when asked how to tackle deepening poverty
When asked how to tackle the deepening poverty in Kocaeli's Dilovası district, AKP mayor Hamza Şayir abruptly changed the topic of the conversation and targeted LGBTI individuals. Amid reports that approximately 2,000 people left the district for Canada in 2020, Şayir said: “It seems there were so many gays in Dilovası, but we were not aware [of them]. They are saying 'We are gays' in order to seek asylum."
Cansu Albayrak / DUVAR
A mayor of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) answered a question about the deepening poverty in the town by resorting to a homophobic discourse.
The incident occurred during a meeting of the municipal council of Kocaeli's Dilova district on Dec. 7.
When AKP mayor Hazma Şayir bosted about the investments in the district, councilor Turan Tekgül, from the Islamist Felicity Party, said that residents were struck with poverty, queuing up to receive food aid.
“You are giving many so-called good news but people in Dilovası are hungry; they are in queues for bread; what can we do about this?” Tekgül asked.
In response, Şayir started to talk about the brain drain leaving Dilovası for opportunities abroad, amid reports that approximately 2,000 people left the district for Canada alone in 2020.
“It seems there were so many gays in Dilovası, but we were not aware [of them]. They are saying 'We are gays' in order to seek asylum. They are saying, 'There is an attack against our sexual rights and we cannot make ends meet there [in Dilovası],” Şayir said, in a clear attempt to change the topic of the conversation and to target the LGBTI community in a hate speech.
While there are no official figures, Turkey has slid down the LGBT rights index published by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).
Last year, it was ranked 48th out of the 49 countries ILGA lists in its Eurasia region.
There is a visible rise in hateful rhetoric against the LGBTI+ community by government officials and representatives of high-level religious institutions in Turkey.
(English version by Didem Atakan)