Turkey won't allow "homosexuality propaganda" and let the families be targeted through it, Turkish Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said on March 6.
"We are absolutely against the corruption of the concepts such as freedom and tolerance for homosexuality propaganda and the targeting of our families and children through it," Altun said hours before police detained at least nine LGBT activists during a March 8 International Women's Day protest in Istanbul's Kadıköy.
"It's the main duty of the state to protect our citizens from all kinds of extremism. The fact that this ugliness is presented to the youth as something normal is an attack against our social order and the noble character of our nation," he said.
"Making even the littlest concessions on this issue would lead us to face more serious problems in the future. We don't allow it and we won't," Altun noted.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has recently ramped up its homophobic discourse and has been targeting the country's LGBT community. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu went as far as to call LGBT individuals "perverted."
The recent wave of homophobia includes an attempt to make the LGBT community seem like an illegal organization that's against Islamic values. The aim of this attempt, without a doubt, is to turn the predominantly Muslim society against the LGBT community and legitimize the insults hurled at them.
Strikingly, rainbow-themed items, even children's books, are met with suspicion by Turkish authorities, who ordered an 18+ age restriction to be placed on them last year.
During the protest on March 6, police banned rainbow flags and rainbow-themed items - even umbrellas - from entering the area of the protest.
8 Mart Kadın Platformu'nun organize ettiği ve üniversite dayanışmaları olarak çağrıcılığını yaptığımız Büyük Kadın Buluşması için bir araya gelen kadınlar alana girerken polis bir arkadaşımızın gökkuşağı desenli şemsiyesiyle alana girmesini engellemeye çalıştı.— Boğaziçi Dayanışması #8 (@boundayanisma) March 6, 2021
Alışın, buradayız! pic.twitter.com/wZBxefCNKN
"We are here, get used to it, make peace with it and we're not leaving," LGBT activist Yıldız İdil Şen told reporters, which was followed by police chasing the taxi that they're in to detain the activists. Journalist Şener Yılmaz Aslan was also detained for documenting police brutality towards the protesters.
Journalists have shared videos showing police brutality and detentions on Twitter.
Trans kadınlar gözaltına alındı. pic.twitter.com/sI7YYjIU9v— zülâl koçer 🏳️🌈 (@zulalkocr) March 6, 2021
In one video, a trans activist was seen urging all women to support them in the face of a hate crime.
"Şuan burada nefret suçu işleniyor. Translara karşı, eşcinsellere karşı nefret, öfke besleniyor. Bütün kadınları bizimle dayanışmaya bekliyoruz"— Pırıl (@lujeyncenubi) March 6, 2021
Buradayız, bir aradayız, alışın !#AlışınGitmiyoruz#YaşasınMücadelemiz pic.twitter.com/6VFzM46ww2
In another, activists were seen calling on the people to not abandon them.
The solidarity between women in the face of police mistreatment was also documented.
Polis eylem alanından çıkan kadınları, LGBTİ+ dostlarımızı ara sokaklara kadar takip ederek gözaltına aldı.— Kampüs Cadıları (@KampusCadilari) March 6, 2021
Siz kadın ve LGBTİ+ düşmanlarına inat birbirimizin kolunu sarmaya devam edeceğiz.
Arkadaşlarımızı derhal serbest bırakın! pic.twitter.com/rxTpGdLhdo
Photographer Cansu Yıldıran shared pictures from the protests on their Twitter account in a thread, showing protesters being battered by police.
Bugün Kadıköy'de Dünya Kadınlar Günü eylemi vardı. pic.twitter.com/WeXeNJZAea— Cansu (@CansuYildirann) March 6, 2021
Shortly after the protest and the detentions, Altun shared the footage of his speech on homosexuality on Twitter.
Savrulmak, taviz vermek, geri adım atmak, eğilip bükülmek yok!— Fahrettin Altun (@fahrettinaltun) March 6, 2021
Değerlerimizi, milletimizi ve nesillerimizi korumak için mücadele edeceğiz.
Dört bir cepheden saldırsalar da sözlerimin sonuna kadar arkasındayım! pic.twitter.com/EeJMvz92wX
"There is no stepping back! We'll struggle to protect our values, nation and generations," Altun tweeted.
Late on March 6, Kadıköy Governor's Office released a statement regarding the protest, citing the participation of a group of LGBT activists as the reason for detentions.
"The LGBT group consisting of 20 people passed the checkpoint around the protest area and prevented security forces from doing their work. Nine people who resisted to prevent security forces from doing their jobs at the end of the protest were detained," the statement read.