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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan complained to the United Nations that he was uncomfortable with the use of what he described as “LGBT colors” in the General Assembly chamber. In fact, it is about the 17 colors symbolizing the Sustainable Development Goals – one of the most ambitious initiatives of the world organization.
Erdogan said he would like to discuss what he saw with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Turkish media reported. The government of Turkey – led by Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party with Islamist roots – has hardened its position on the freedoms and rights of LGBTQ communities, Reuters recalls.
“One of the issues that bothers me the most… is that when you enter the UN General Assembly, you see LGBT colors on the steps and in other places,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by broadcaster Haberturk and other media.
“How many LGBT people are there in the world right now? As much as they have the right to take these steps, those who are anti-LGBT have as much right,” said Erdogan, who has often described members of the LGBT community as “deviant” and particularly hardened his rhetoric during his election campaign this year.
The colors are also incorporated into official instructions on how to use them, including the spelling of the term Sustainable Development Goals in the various official UN languages.
However, some UN diplomats suggested that Erdogan may have confused the 17 different colors associated with the Sustainable Development Goals – and the decoration of parts of the UN headquarters, including the stairs, for a summit that took place earlier last year week – with the rainbow colors of the flag symbolizing LGBTQ rights.
Although Guterres has been an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ rights and has been outspoken about discrimination, there are no rainbow colors at UN headquarters encouraging the community to be protected.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by world leaders in 2015 with a deadline of 2030, are a global to-do list that includes ending hunger, extreme poverty, combating climate change and inequality and promoting gender equality.
Homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, but hostility toward it is widespread, and police crackdowns on Pride parades have become more visible over the years.