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Kerem Kinik: Turkey defends humanitarian NGO chief over controversial LGBT tweet

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Participants at a Gay Pride event in support of LGBT+ rights in Istanbul, June 28, 2015.
Participants at a Gay Pride event in support of LGBT+ rights in Istanbul, June 28, 2015.   -   Copyright  Emrah Gurel/AP
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Ankara has defended a leader of a Turkish humanitarian NGO after a controversial tweet in which he appeared to equate homosexuals with paedophiles.

On Sunday - Gay Pride Day - Kerem Kinik, president of the country's Red Crescent Society tweeted that "we will not let you step on human dignity".

"We will fight anyone who seeks to disrupt healthy creation and those who present the abnormal as normal (...) and those who impose their paedophile dreams on young minds under the guise of modernity," the tweet read.

Kinik did not explicitly mention homosexuals and said his comments were aimed at paedophiles only, but his tweet drew a wave of criticism.

The International Federation of Red Cross Societies (IFRC), of which Kerem Kinik is a vice-president, tweeted that "the views expressed by Kerem Kinik do not reflect those of the IFRC".

"These words are both untrue and offensive to all of us," wrote the IFRC on Twitter on Monday.

"We condemn homophobia and hate speech of all kinds and we stand in solidarity with LGBTQI+ communities around the world."

Kinik responded to criticism in another tweet, saying his approach was “fully coherent” with the IFRC’s principles because he opposed paedophilia.

But the communications director of the Turkish presidency, Fahrettin Altun, defended Kinik, saying in a statement that "LGBT propaganda poses a serious threat to freedom of expression".

"The IFRC has become complicit in attacks on Kerem Kinik, a doctor who has dedicated his life to the protection of children around the world."

Turkey is one of the few Muslim countries where homosexuality is not repressed by law, but hostility to it is widespread.

In July 2019, Turkish police dispersed activists at a banned Gay Pride march in Istanbul.

Moreover, in April, the head of the Turkish Religious Affairs Authority, Ali Erbas, caused controversy by linking homosexuality and disease in a sermon.

A recent report from the advocacy group ILGA Europe ranked Turkey 48th out of 49 countries on legal and policy practices for LGBT people.