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Erdogan slams Turkey's LGBTQ community, weaponizes homophobia ahead of vote

Homophobia and transphobia have unprecedentedly taken a prominent stage in the campaign period ahead of Turkey’s consequential elections.
A participant faces riot policemen wearing a rainbow flag during a Pride march in Istanbul, on June 26, 2022. - Turkish police forcibly intervened in a Pride march in Istanbul, detaining dozens of demonstrators and an AFP photographer, AFP journalists on the ground said. The governor's office had banned the march around Taksim Square in the heart of Istanbul but protesters gathered nearby under heavy police presence earlier than scheduled. (Photo by KEMAL ASLAN / AFP) (Photo by KEMAL ASLAN/AFP via Getty Ima

ANKARA — With only 10 days to go until Turkey's consequential elections, embattled President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared on Thursday that the LGBTQ community is “the strongest current threatening the future of Western nations" as part of his efforts to weaponize homophobia against the opposition.

Speaking at a rally in Turkey's Black Sea region, a stronghold of conservative nationalists, Erdogan reiterated his homophobic messages to slam the main opposition six-party opposition bloc, led by the Republican People’s Party (CHP).  “LGBT cannot get into the AKP [Erdogan's Justice and Development Party],” he said, adding “But is CHP pro-LGBT? Yes! Is the Good Party pro-LGBT? Yes! Can others [in the alliance] speak up against this? No!”

Though divisive and polarizing rhetoric has long been a campaign staple for Erdogan, the ruling party’s current election campaign has featured unprecedented levels of homophobic narrative ahead of presidential and parliamentary polls on May 14.  Earlier in the day, Erdogan wrote on Twitter that LGBTQ movement is “the strongest current threatening the future of Western nations.” 

Over the past two months, Erdogan and his government officials have galvanized homophobic sentiments among their conservative voter base.

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