Source: “AKP’li eşcinseller Erdoğan’ın önünde bayrak açtı”, (“Homosexual AKP supporters displayed a flag in front of Erdoğan”) Radikal, 4 August 2014, http://www.radikal.com.tr/politika/akpli_escinseller_bayrak_acti-1204925/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=trafik
The group named “The LGBTI of the AK Party” attended Erdoğan’s Maltepe rally. The group displayed a rainbow flag at the rally site and in front of the podium.
The AK Party’s LGBT partisans attended presidential candidate and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s rally for the first time yesterday in Maltepe and they displayed a flag. The group shared photos from the rally on their AK LGBTI Twitter account with the note, “HOMOSEXUALS STAND BESIDE TAYYİP ERDOĞAN. WE ARE AT RALLIES. GET USED TO IT, WE ARE EVERYWHERE.” One user tweeted the following, “I waved the rainbow flag at the very front. Our Prime Minister probably saw it too.” The photographs received supportive comments but there was a hostile message too, which read, “My brothers in the AK Party, put your foot down against this ridicule.”
Before the rally, representatives from the group spoke to Milliyet’s Damla Yur and explained that they had support from the party administration.
The news story entitled “There are active AK Party members in our group” reads as follows:
The first time we saw the rainbow flag next to AK Party members was during the opening ceremony of the Istanbul-Ankara High Speed Railway where Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was also in attendance. The former Minister of State Responsible for Women and Family Affairs, AK Party deputy Selma Aliye Kavaf had declared once that “[she thought] homosexuality was a disease that needed to be cured.”
The AK Party’s Afyon Deputy Halil Ürün had asked, “What is LGBT? I have no idea. How should I know about it? We are ignorant about these issues.” The goal of the AK Party’s LGBTI members is to change the negative perceptions of right wing and conservative sectors against LGBTI people. The group entitled “The LGBTI of the AK Party,” founded on 30 March, already has 937 followers on social media. Three hundred of these followers are assumed to be AK Party members but only 11 people attended the initial meeting.
Some Active Party Members
One of the founders of the group, Kerem, shared the group’s goals with Milliyet. Kerem explains that they aim to make sure that the heterosexual sectors understand how there are LGBTI individuals who vote for the AK Party. It is for this reason that they decided to get together and become visible. Kerem has previously worked in AK Party organizations and states that they are able to reach people through social media. Kerem says that there are several AK Party members who came out with their sexual orientations:
“There are some very active party members in our group. An AK Party affiliated mayor sent us a congratulatory message when we first founded our group. We are not only in touch with AK Party. We have also received support from the LISTAG (Families of LGBTs in Istanbul) Family Group, Hevi LGBT, the Istanbul LGBTT Solidarity Association and other LGBTI groups.
“I have been hurt”
“As a homosexual person who votes for the AK Party, I have at times been very hurt and saddened by the declarations of the AK Party deputies. Our goal is to change the perceptions of right leaning and conservative sectors that have similar thoughts. Every political party may include people who think negatively of LGBTI individuals and there are LGBTI-phobic people among conservatives too. But this does not mean that all hate crimes are committed by conservatives. It would not be right to associate the hate crimes with a single party.”