Turkishprosecutors have found no reason to investigate the Religious AffairsDirectorate (Diyanet) head Ali Erbaş for his comments targetingLGBTI community and HIV-positive individuals during a Friday sermon.
The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office said that Erbaş cannot be accused of hate speech as he made these comments in line with the “authority” the law gives him and as part of his duty.Association urges Turkey's top religious authority head to apologize for targeting LGBT individuals
“When the law and regulations are taken into account, Diyanet head's talking about Islam's orders and prohibitions and his suggestions and teachings in this regard, cannot be in anyway considered as crimes of 'hate and discrimination,' 'instigating public into hatred and animosity and insulting them,'” the prosecutor's office said.
Thecomplaint against Erbaş has an “abtract and general” nature, itsaid.
“The sermon which has been analyzed and watched, talks generally about things permissible and forbidden in Islam, the reasons why these are considered so, ... indicates that these orders and prohibitions are for the benefit of all people, and in this respect the sermon also addresses all humanity,” it said.
Erbaşon April 24 claimed homosexuality caused diseases, corrupted peopleand was condemned in Islamic teaching. He also claimed during hisweekly sermon that homosexuality caused HIV.
TheAnkara bar association of lawyers accused him of inciting hatredagainst gay people and also brought a lawsuit against him.
Inreturn, Ankara prosecutors opened a probe into the bar associationfor "insulting the religious values adopted by a section ofsociety" and Diyanet has made a criminal complaint against thelawyers.
Amnesty International urges Turkish gov't to take steps to combat rising homophobiaCivil society condemns Turkey's top cleric for overstepping his post's legal bounds
Meanwhile, ahead of the 17 May International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB), Amnesty International has called on the Turkish government to take urgent action to counter the increasing number of discriminatory statements and policies by state officials against LGBTI people.
Erbaş's “homophobic statements were publicly supported by a series of senior government officials, including President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan, while those in civil society that condemned the homophobic remarks were censured by the authorities,” the NGO said in its May 13-dated statement.
“Thegovernment of Turkey must end its participation, support andencouragement of homophobic statements that stigmatize anddiscriminate against LGBTI people. Instead, the government must takeurgent action to counter stereotypes, eradicate discrimination andfoster greater equality,” it said.
AmenstyInternational also said that government officials who are fuelinghatred and creating a hostile environment for LGBTI people must besubjected to appropriate disciplinary or other sanctions.
“Stateauthorities must promote equality for all, including LGBTIindividuals,” it said.