Religious authority’s statement on LGBT sparks debate in Turkey

Religious authority’s statement on LGBT sparks debate in Turkey

Religious authority’s statement on LGBT sparks debate in Turkey

A statement by Religious Affairs Chair Ali Erbaş about homosexuality sparked a new debate in Turkey while Ankara Bar’s criticism on the religious authorities’ statement has led to an investigation launched by Ankara prosecutors’ office.

“Islam accepts adultery as one of the greatest harams. [Islam] curses Lutism and homosexuality,” Erbaş said during a Friday sermon on April 24 and suggested that homosexuality “causes illnesses and withers the generation”.

“Hundreds of thousands of people per year are exposed to the HIV virus caused by this great illicit, which is adultery of illegitimate and unmarried life in Islamic literature. Let’s fight together to protect people from such evil,” he stated.

These remarks turned into a debate with reactions of civil society organizations, lawyers and politicians. The hashtag “#AliErbasyanlızdegil” ("Ali Erbaş is not alone" in Turkish) became among the most talked about topics in Turkish Twitter.

Ankara Bar responded in a statement and accused Erbaş of inciting the public to hatred and hostility. The bar accused Erbaş of “receiving a salary in exchange for ignoring child molesting, for trying to legitimize the spiritual ground of misogyny with religious discourses,” and said if he remains on duty for his discourse on LGBTİQ + woman and child rhetoric, “it should not surprise anyone that in his next speech he invites the people to burn women in the squares with torches in their hands.”

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on April 27 launched an investigation against the Ankara Bar for the crime of “insulting the religious values adopted by a part of the people”.

Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın and Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun were also involved in the debate.

In a statement on his twitter account using the said hashtag, Kalın said: “Those who extend the language of Allah, who created the time and place, are frustrated in this world and in the hereafter. Ali Erbaş, who expressed the divine judgment, is not alone.”

Fahrettin Altun said “The pedestals of our supreme religion, Islam, which enlightens ourselves and the hereafter by demonstrating the value it deserves in the universe, are not the pedestals to be questioned according to the wills of the tactless attackers," in a tweet.

In the meantime, Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül said he condemned the bar's statement.

“I think that the points stated by the Ankara Bar Association do not suit a well-established legal institution, I condemn the statement," he said.

“The fascist statement made by the Ankara Bar Association about the Chair of Religious Affairs, Ali Erbaş, is total rudeness because he expresses Islamic values,” Ömer Çelik, the spokesperson of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said.

Several other ministers also shared the hashtag on their Twitter account.