Turkey defends Red Crescent head after comparing LGBTQ+ community to paedophiles

Turkey defends Red Crescent head after comparing LGBTQ+ community to paedophiles
Turkey's presidency defended Turkish Red Crescent chief Kerem Kinik after he compared the LGBTQ+ community to paedophiles.
2 min read
Turkey has defended comparing the LGBTQ+ community to paedophiles [Getty]

Turkey has defended the head of the local Red Crescent Society after tweets he sent on international Pride Day seemed to equate gay people with paedophiles.

Turkish Red Crescent chief Kerem Kinik wrote on Sunday: "We will fight anyone who disrupts healthy creation, those who show the abnormal as normal... and who force their paedophilic dreams on young minds by portraying it as modernity."

He made no direct reference to gay people and insisted he was referring only to paedophiles but his comments were immediately condemned, including by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

However, Turkish presidential spokesman Fahrettin Altun said late on Monday: "LGBT propaganda poses a grave threat to freedom of speech."

The IFRC said the views of Kinik -- who also serves as vice president of Europe Office of the IFRC -- did not represent the body.

"These words are both wrong and offend us all. We condemn homophobia and hate speech of all kinds and we stand in solidarity with LGBTQI+ communities around the world," it said in a statement on Twitter.

Altun said the IFRC had become "complicit in that attack by targeting @drkerem... We won't be silenced!"

Kinik defended his comments on Monday, saying on Twitter he was "strongly against any act of sexual abuse and violence against children".

"I believe my approach is fully coherent with our values and principles as the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement," he said.

The row comes after Turkey's top religious official claimed homosexuality caused disease in April.

The official was defended at the time by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who also appeared to offer indirect support to Kinik on Monday.

In a speech, he called on Turks to "come out against those who display any kind of perversion forbidden by God".

While homosexuality has been legal throughout modern Turkey's history, gay people often face harassment and abuse.

Gay events have been blocked in recent years including Istanbul Pride.

This year the event in Istanbul was celebrated online because of the coronavirus pandemic but had previously been banned for five years in a row.

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