The president of Turkey said that a prominent cleric was “absolutely right” to say that homosexuality “brings illnesses.”
This past Friday, the head of the Turkish government’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) Ali Erbas used a Ramadan address to denounce homosexuality, which he said “brings illnesses and corrupts generations.”
While he did not specifically mention the current global pandemic, Erbas said that homosexuality “causes” HIV, which is not true.
“Come and let’s fight together to protect people from such evil,” he said.
His comments drew criticism from the Ankara Bar Association, which said that they “came from ages ago” and would encourage hate crimes. They also accused the Diyanet of ignoring child abuse in religious institutions.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, yesterday, defended the cleric: “What he said was totally right.”
“An attack against the Diyanet chief is an attack on the state,” he said.
Prosecutors in Ankara have opened an investigation into the Ankara Bar Association for “insulting the religious values adopted by a section of society.” The Diyanet has filed a criminal complaint against the law association as well in an attempt to shut down their criticism.
“It is the most natural right for people to speak according to the value system they believe it,” said Omer Celik, a spokesperson for Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party, adding that criticizing homophobia is part of a “fascist mentality.”
Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesperson for Erdoğan, also went on Twitter and called Erbas’s words “divine judgment.”
Homosexuality is technically legal in Turkey, but LGBTQ people have been harassed by police under laws that ban “public exhibitionism” and “offenses against public morality”