Turkish President Erdoğan attacks LGBTQ+ community during election victory speech

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. @generalsvr_en (via Twitter)

On Sunday, May 28, the results of Turkey’s 2023 general election were released, with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan being re-elected as president, beating out social democrat Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. With Erdoğan having been the President of Turkey since 2014, the race for his third term was the first where another candidate came close to winning. 

52% of the final votes went to the re-elected president and 47.86% to his rival Kilicdaroglu. The ballot turnout exceeded 85%, less than the over 90% reached after the election’s first round.

Speaking to supporters in front of his Istanbul residence after the result, Erdoğan thanked voters for putting their trust in him. He went on to speak out once more against the LGBTQ+ community, saying: “In our culture, family is sacred, no one can interfere. We will strangle anyone who dares to touch it.” 

He continued by suggesting that the so-called “LGBT forces” would not be able to infiltrate his party, the AKP. These sentiments align with his longstanding and openly homophobic beliefs that queer identities are inseparably linked with “terror, immorality, perversion and violence” and follow rhetoric he used in his recent re-election campaign.

At a rally in Izmir earlier this year, for example, he said: “In this nation, the foundations of the family are stable. LGBT will not emerge in this country.” 

At another electoral rally, he affirmed that his party will “never be pro-LGBT, because the family is sacred to us”, a statement similar to the one he made after being re-elected on Sunday.

Throughout his whole campaign, Erdoğan put a heavy emphasis on striking down the LGBTQ+ community, seeking support from his Islamist base to win the election. Many of his speeches accused the opposition of undermining family values and being infiltrated by powerful LGBTQ+ networks, sometimes even hinting that they were being run by paymasters abroad, framing the queerness as “cultural terrorism” of the West.

Furthermore, he called on people to vote for him in order to “take a stand against those who exhibit any kind of perversion forbidden by God, who exhibit any kind of heresy our lord has forbidden, and those who support them”.

Responding to the results in a drastically different tone, Kılıçdaroğlu called the Turkish Government “authoritarian”, and said, “We have experienced the most unfair election process of recent years”.

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