Earlier this week, Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy chair Mehmet Özhaseki made a statement in a television interview indicating that he accepted LGBT+ people as part of “God’s will.” Now, he’s reversed that statement saying “we cannot approve of perverts.”
“It is never possible for us to approve of perverts that corrupt our family institutions,” he said.
Earlier this week, when interviewed on television, Özhaseki bucked AKP tendencies and issued an uncharacteristically compassionate statement on LGBT+ people. Using an Islamic parable, he said that since LGBT+ people were “created by God” they have a “place in our heads” - in other words, they had to be accepted.
Now, Özhaseki is saying that those statements were taken out of context and misinterpreted.
“The words I said on a TV channel about different individuals arising from creation have been completely taken out of context and spread to other channels,” he said.
He re-shaped his statements made on television in a social media post on Nov. 18, saying that while indeed one must respect the difference’s between “God’s creatures,” one cannot accept “perversions.”
“God created the universe and humans,” Özhaseki wrote. “The Creator did not create anything empty and meaningless. There is wisdom in everything created. There is nothing condemnable about the difference and discomfort (hünsa) that comes from the creation of human beings. Respecting them is essential […] However, it is never possible for us to approve of some of the perversions that were created later on, contrary to our traditions, customs, and values of belief. These destroyed our family institutions.”
The AKP has had a particularly firm stance against LGBT+ communities since the Gezi Park protests of 2013 and the coup attempt of 2016. The annual LGBT+ pride parade in Istanbul and other major Turkish cities has been banned since 2016, and those that have marched regardless have been met with police violence.
In recent years, LGBT+ artists and activists have been criminalized - earlier this year, a young group of students at Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University protesting their pro-AKP trustee rector were arrested for “offending religious values” for work that contained the LGBT+ flag. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, like Özhaseki, both used the word “perverts” to describe the LGBT+ students.