ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey defended an anti-gay tweet by the head of the Turkish Red Crescent, describing him as a victim of “LGBT propaganda” after his comments were condemned by an international body.
Kerem Kinik, chairman of the Red Crescent Society of Turkey made the comments on his official Twitter account on Sunday, celebrated by LGBT people around the world as international Pride Day.
“We will not let you step on human dignity,” Kinik wrote.
“We will protect nature and the mental health of our children. We’ll fight against those who violate healthy creation, who make abnormal look normal by using their power of communication and impose their paedophiliac dreams cloaked as modernity on young minds.”
Kinik’s comments drew a rebuke from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the network of the movement’s national groups, where he serves as one of five vice presidents.
“The views expressed by Dr. Kinik do not represent the views of the IFRC: these words are both wrong and offensive,” it said, adding that it was assessing its next step.
“The IFRC has clear code of conduct which forbids any form of homophobia, hate speech or prejudice, and all staff and representatives are bound by that code, including Dr. Kinik.”
Fahrettin Altun, Turkish presidency’s communications director, said on Twitter that “LGBT propaganda poses a grave threat to freedom of speech,” adding that the IFRC “became complicit in that attack by targeting” Kinik.
“We won’t be silenced!” he wrote.
Homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, but hostility to it is widespread. Authorities have cracked down on LGBT events and marches. A 2019 report on LGBT rights from the advocacy group ILGA Europe ranked Turkey second to last of 49 countries.
Kinik responded to IFRC’s criticism in another tweet, saying his approach was “fully coherent” with the IFRC’s principles because he opposed paedophilia.
“My personal views from yesterday is to advocate for protection of our children from any harm. I trust this is our responsibility towards their silent scream,” Kinik wrote, in English.
In April, Ali Erbas, head of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, said Islam condemned homosexuality because “it brings illnesses and corrupts generations”.
Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Additional reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Jonathan Spicer, Kevin Liffey and Peter Graff