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Turkey defended a homophobic tweet by the head of the Turkish Red Crescent, describing him as a victim of "LGBT propaganda" after his comments were condemned by an international body.
Kerem Kınık, chairman of the Red Crescent Society of Turkey made the comments on his official Twitter account on June 28, celebrated by LGBT people around the world as international Pride Day.
"We will not let you step on human dignity," Kınık wrote.
"We will protect nature and the mental health of our children. We'll fight against those who violate healthy creation, who make abnormal look normal by using their power of communication and impose their paedophiliac dreams cloaked as modernity on young minds."
Kınık's comments drew a rebuke from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the network of the movement's national groups, where he serves as one of five vice presidents.
"The views expressed by Dr. Kınık do not represent the views of the IFRC: these words are both wrong and offensive," it said, adding that it was assessing its next step.
"The IFRC has clear code of conduct which forbids any form of homophobia, hate speech or prejudice, and all staff and representatives are bound by that code, including Dr. Kınık."
Fahrettin Altun, Turkish presidency's communications director, said on Twitter that "LGBT propaganda poses a grave threat to freedom of speech," adding that the IFRC "became complicit in that attack by targeting" Kınık.
LGBT propaganda poses a grave threat to freedom of speech.@ifrc became complicit in that attack by targeting @drkerem — a doctor who devoted his entire life to protecting children around the world.— Fahrettin Altun (@fahrettinaltun) June 29, 2020
We won’t be silenced!
"We won't be silenced!" he wrote.
Homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, but hostility to it is widespread. Authorities have cracked down on LGBT events and marches. A 2019 report on LGBT rights from the advocacy group ILGA Europe ranked Turkey second to last of 49 countries.
Kınık responded to IFRC's criticism in another tweet, saying his approach was "fully coherent" with the IFRC's principles because he opposed paedophilia.
I am strongly against any act of sexual abuse and violence against children. Therefore, I am strongly against “paedophilia”.— Dr Kerem Kınık (@drkerem) June 29, 2020
I believe my approach is fully coherent with our values and principles as the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. +++ https://t.co/hJOTo0ZJrz
"My personal views from yesterday is to advocate for protection of our children from any harm. I trust this is our responsibility towards their silent scream," Kınık wrote, in English.
In April, Ali Erbaş, head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate, said Islam condemned homosexuality because "it brings illnesses and corrupts generations."