Homosexuality in Turkey: Minister of Religious Affairs v. lawyers
This is a story that developed quickly. Initially, Turkish Minister of Religious Affairs Ali Erbaş targeted a sexual minority group during his speech.
He faced criticism from the Ankara Bar Association.
Then, a criminal case was instituted against the board.
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“Cheating and homosexuality cause disease”
“Islam considers adultery to be one of the greatest sins and curses homosexuality. Why is this so? Because it carries with it diseases and corrupts our race. Hundreds of thousands of people have become the victims of HIV. Let’s fight together to protect people from this scourge,” said Ali Erbaş.
“He plunges the people into malice and enmity”
“We watched the speech of Minister of Religious Affairs Ali Erbaş in dismay. He expressed hatred for a part of humanity and made them a target for the crowd,” said the bar association.
The man who heads the state structure gives his arguments with a bloodthirsty fervor, as in prehistoric times, justifies his words with holy values and plunges people into anger and enmity.”
The bar association also suggest people turn their attention to the fact that during his tenure, the minister “turned a blind eye to violence against children,” “created a moral ground for violence against women,” and received a salary from the state for doing so.
Members of the bar state that, if, despite the fact that he makes these speeches, Ali Erbaş remains at his post, it will be no surprise if in his next speeches, he “calls on the people to take up torches in their hands to burn women in the town squares for being evil spirits”.
Who is wrong in this dispute — the court will decide
Many authorities, led by President Erdogan and including the Minister of Justice, have already openly supported Ali Erbaş.
Tayyip Erdogan: “The only structure authorized to speak about Islam is the Ministry of Religious Affairs. And the statement of the bar association is an attack on Islam and on the state.”
Ankara’s prosecutor’s office opened a criminal case against the Ankara Bar Association on charges of “belittling religious values accepted by a section of the population.”
These events also sparked a violent debate on social networks.
Dozens of government supporters have launched a Twitter campaign under the hashtag “#AliErbaşYalnızDeyildir (#AliErbaşIsNotAlone) in support of the Minister of Religious Affairs.
The hashtag was first used by presidential press secretary Ibrahim Kalyn on twitter: “Those who encroach on the law of Allah, creator of time and space, will be defeated both in this world and in the next.”
At the same time, opposition members, lawyers and activists began their campaign on social networks in support of the bar association – under the hashtag #AnkaraBarosuYalnızDeyildir (#AnkaraBarIsNotAlone).
A spokesman for a leading opposition force, the Republican People’s Party, Faik Öztrak told reporters:
“Religious representatives in this country have the right to voice their opinions. But they should not use hateful language when describing someone else’s way of life. The last thing we need is discrimination that separates society.”
The Izmir City Bar Association also called on the government to “put a stop not to the lawyers, but to the spreaders of hate”:
“We believe that we should punish…those who divide society and sow the seeds of hatred. We proudly stand shoulder to shoulder with the Ankara Bar Association.”
Turkish society has now been split into two camps.
Writer Yusif Kaplan posted a video made by Erdogan on Twitter where he supports Erbaş. And he wrote that he would like to annul the Istanbul Convention (a Council of Europe document on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence).
But many people posting are outraged by the words of the minister, not lawyers.
“Having humiliated part of the population, they are starting a case against the Ankara Bar Association on charges of humiliating religion.”
“The Minister of Religious Affairs, who is only concerned with hunting for homosexuals, while millions of people are being crushed under the weight of hunger and poverty, should be sent on unpaid leave, and the ministry itself should be closed.”