Turkish lawyers speak out against anti-LGBT speech, are now being prosecuted themselves

The Ankara Prosecutor’s office has launched a criminal investigation against an association of lawyers who filed a complaint against Ali Erbas, the highest Turkish imam. He claimed that homosexuality leads to the decay of society. The Ankara Prosecutor’s office has now started an investigation against the lawyers association for "insulting religious values".
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The Turkish minister of Justice supports the investigation by the Ankara Prosecutor’s office, he said in a tweet.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticized the investigation. The human rights organization calls on Turkey to drop all criminal investigations of organizations that speak out against LGBT + discrimination. “It is extremely concerning to see some of Turkey’s top government representatives appearing to endorse hateful remarks by the head of the religious affairs directorate,” said Hugh Williamson, head of Europe and Central Asia at HRW. “Turkey’s government has an obligation to protect everyone from hate crimes and discrimination, and should not tolerate statements by officials that encourage hate crimes and target LGBT people and those living with HIV.”

With his speech, Imam Erbas sparked a fierce discussion in Turkish society. Following the sermon, the hashtag #YallahHollandaya was trending on Twitter. This translates as "go to the Netherlands", a statement in which LGBT+ people are urged to leave the country.

Erbas said in his sermon that Islam condemns homosexuality. Homosexuals are said to bring disease and decay within society according to him. “Hundreds of thousands of people are exposed to the HIV virus every year. This is caused by this great sin, known in Islamic literature as adultery. Let's fight together to protect people from this kind of evil," the Imam preached.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also shared his support for the Imam's statements. He called the criticism aimed at the religious leader a "deliberate attack against Islam.”

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