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Maloney, Cicilline and Members of the Equality Caucus Urge State Department to Rebuke Turkey’s Anti-LGBTQ Actions

Feb 24, 2021
Press Release

Maloney, Cicilline and Members of the Equality Caucus Urge State Department to Rebuke Turkey’s Anti-LGBTQ Actions

Washington, D.C. – In response to recent reports that the Republic of Turkey has taken continued hostile and hateful actions against the LGBTQ community, Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) and David Cicilline (RI-1) led Members of the Equality Caucus in calling on Secretary of State Antony Blinken to take a strong role in rebuking Turkey’s President Erdoğan and his anti-LGBTQ actions.

“The United States cannot stand by when other countries are condemning citizens based on who they love. We urge you to publicly speak out against the ongoing abuses in Turkey and to call on the Turkish authorities to allow these students and advocates the right to peaceful assembly. We strongly condemn the arbitrary detentions of these advocates and the anti-LGBTQI+ rhetoric surrounding demonstrations.  We stand in solidarity with the Turkish LGBTQ community and look forward to working with the Biden Administration to address this ongoing concern in Turkey,” the letter reads.

In early February, more than 300 pro-LGBTQ protesters were detained in Istanbul and Ankara after politically charged and violent altercations from the Turkish police. Following the protests, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attacked LGBTQ youth in a speech, comparing the pro-LGBTQ protestors to terrorists. Members of his cabinet have called these advocates “LGBT deviants.”

The letter was signed by 29 Members of Congress and was endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign.

Read the letter here and below:

 

February 24, 2021

The Honorable Antony J. Blinken
Secretary of State
US Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

 

Dear Secretary Blinken:

We write to draw your attention to troubling reports that the Republic of Turkey has once again taken hostile steps against the LGBTQ community and its advocates. The recent detention of university students in Turkey and the use of anti-LGBTQ “hate speech” after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lashed out at youth-driven protests is unacceptable. We know that this is a priority for the State Department and the Biden Administration and want to ensure that you continue to take a strong role in rebuking these actions on the world stage.

More than 300 students and their supporters were detained in Istanbul and Ankara in increasingly violent and politically-charged altercations with the police this month. The protests erupted after Erdoğan named a party loyalist as head of Boğaziçi University at the start of the year and students saw it as part of Erdoğan’s broader effort to control Turks’ daily lives. Erdoğan’s comparison of the protesters to “terrorists” also played a role in inciting violence. This regime’s intolerance of dissent has clearly been on display in Turkey and in its interactions with the rest of the world.

The actions taken against demonstrators in Turkey and the harmful rhetoric targeting LGBTQ people should concern us all. The Turkish government has used physical force and adopted discriminatory laws since at least June 2015 to prevent LGBTQ persons from publicly gathering, citing “social values” and “public morality.” This disturbing trend of suppression of the freedom of assembly for LGBTQ people and their allies signals an acceptance of anti-LGBTQ sentiments held by some Turkish people.

The United States cannot stand by when other countries are condemning citizens based on who they love. We urge you to publicly speak out against the ongoing abuses in Turkey and to call on the Turkish authorities to allow these students and advocates the right to peaceful assembly. We strongly condemn the arbitrary detentions of these advocates and the anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric surrounding demonstrations.  We stand in solidarity with the Turkish LGBTQ community and look forward to working with the Biden Administration to address this ongoing concern in Turkey.

Sincerely,

Sean Patrick Maloney
Member of Congress

David Cicilline
Member of Congress

 

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