Turkey was ranked 48th among 49 countries as regards the human rights of LGBT people, according to the 2021 Rainbow Europe Map published by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)-Europe.
ILGA-Europe is an independent, international nongovernmental umbrella group bringing together over 600 organizations in Europe and Central Asia.
At the end of the report, covering the January to December 2020 period, are three countries — Azerbaijan, Turkey and Armenia — exactly the same as last year. Turkey had the same ranking in the group’s 2020 index as well. At the bottom of the list is Azerbaijan, while Armenia is ranked 47th.
ILGA-Europe’s annual Rainbow Europe Map and Index, ranking the legal and policy situation of LGBT people in 49 European countries, finds that over the past 12 months advances in LGBT rights have come to almost a complete standstill.
According to the index, a large number of hate speech incidents and campaigns took place again in Turkey in 2020 against LGBT people, and in some instances the government or public figures blamed LGBT people or gay men for the COVID-19 pandemic and for spreading other illnesses.
For instance, the head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate, Professor Ali Erbaş, gave a sermon focusing on COVID-19, saying that homosexuality “brings illness.” In March, theologist Ali Rıza Demircan said on a mainstream news channel that “homosexual relationships … should be prohibited in order to prevent the contagion of COVID-19. These are also banned by God.”
A number of hate campaigns were run on social media and endorsed by leading political figures. In April, for instance, the #Netflixadamol (NetflixBeAMan) was trending in Turkey with over 70,000 tweets condemning Netflix for featuring two gay high school students in the show “Aşk 101” (“Love 101”).
The head of the Supreme Council of Radio and Television (RTÜK) threatened Netflix and said it would not let such content be streamed.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also placed unprecedented hardship on LGBTI people in Turkey amid state-run hate campaigns waged against them, some of which scapegoated them for the spread of the virus. LGBTI people have experienced increasing difficulties in employment and healthcare since March and faced growing levels of violence at home during lockdown. LGBTI asylum seekers have been hardest hit by the pandemic and its consequences, the findings of the index showed.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, but homophobia is widespread.
Kaos GL, one of the oldest LGBT rights groups in Turkey, last year counted more than 2,000 news articles it qualified as discriminatory — a 40 percent jump from 2019.
After a spectacular Pride March in İstanbul drew 100,000 people in 2014, the government responded by banning future events in the city, citing security concerns.