Turkey ranks second worst country in Europe, Central Asia for LGBTI+ rights
Turkey ranked as the second worst country in Europe and Central Asia for LGBTI+ rights for the fourth consecutive year, according to an annual report by the Brussels-based International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA) Europe.
ILGA Europe, co-funded by the European Union, rated Turkey as 48th among 49 countries in the 2022 review of the human rights situation for LGBTI+ people, which covered 2021.
Only Azerbaijan ranked lower, the report published on Thursday showed. The two Muslim countries are close regional allies, cooperating closely on political, economic and social issues. Armenia, Russia and Belarus ranked immediately above Turkey, followed by Poland, the lowest-ranked European Union member.
Being LGBT has never been criminalised during the modern Turkish republic, but LGBT-focused events have been banned since 2015 after Istanbul Pride attracted some 100,000 people in 2014. In July last year, Turkey withdrew from the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, after pro-government conservative and Islamist groups argued that it promoted homosexuality and undermined family values.
The ILGA highlighted incidents and campaigns of hate speech in Turkey targeting LGBTI+ people last year, including by political leaders and pro-government media outlets. It also drew attention to restrictions on freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, as well as attacks targeting LGBTI+ human rights defenders and their work.
In February last year, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu called LGBT people “deviants” on Twitter. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has outright denied the existence of LGBT persons in the country. In March 2021, the head of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, the country’s top religious body, called on people to “oppose the illnesses and decay to lineage” brought on by the “evil” of homosexuality.
Malta remained the top European country for LGBTI+ rights, the ILGA reported.