Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has again targeted the country’s LGBTI+ community, this time through his criticism of the opposition.
Soylu said that main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s pledges to reinstate the Istanbul Convention showed his desire to “ungender himself and his colleagues.”
“And now they are trying to bring to our system an understanding that attempts to ungender the whole of our society under the name of LGBT. Let whoever wants to have no gender do so. If Kılıçdaroğlou wants to ungender himself and his colleagues, let him do so. We would do whatever God orders us. Family is important for us, woman is important for us, man is important for us,” Soylu said on Feb. 5 while addressing a meeting in Istanbul’s Esenyurt district.
The Istanbul Convention is the first European instrument that aims legally to prevent gender-based violence, protect victims of violence, and punish perpetrators. Turkey justified its withdrawal from the landmark treaty in 2021 using hostile rhetoric against LGBT+ individuals. The Turkish Presidency’s Communication Directorate in March 2021 released a statement in which it said: “The Istanbul Convention, originally intended to promote women’s rights, was hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalize homosexuality – which is incompatible with Türkiye’s social and family values.”
CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu has been since vowing to reintroduce the Istanbul Convention if his party comes to power.
Turkey’s LGBTI+ community is often targeted by hate speech of government officials who call them “perverted”, and the crimes committed against them go unpunished. Many LGBTI+ individuals say that the country is getting more and more difficult to live in.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has had a particularly firm stance against LGBTI+ community since the Gezi Park protest of 2013 and the coup attempt of 2016. The annual LGBTI+ 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.