The head of the Turkish Red Crescent denied expressing homophobic sentiments in a tweet criticized as offensive by the agency he represents, saying the comment had been in defense of the rights of abused children.
Kerem Kinik, chair of the Red Crescent Society of Turkey, said on Twitter on Sunday – celebrated by LGBT communities worldwide as Pride Day – that he would “fight against those who violate healthy creation”.
He said late on Tuesday there was nothing in the tweet “targeting any specific group or segment of society”.
“That’s why I specifically used the word pedophilia to point out pedophiles and that has nothing to do with sexual orientation as is being claimed,” Kinik said in a statement in English sent to Reuters.
The tweet drew a rebuke from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the movement’s international network, where Kinik is one of five vice presidents.
The IFRC said the comment was “wrong and offensive,” adding Kinik was subject to a code of conduct that “forbids any form of homophobia, hate speech or prejudice.” The group said it was assessing its next step.
In the tweet Kinik wrote:
“We will not let you step on human dignity. We will protect nature and the mental health of our children. We’ll fight against those who violate healthy creation… and impose their paedophiliac dreams cloaked as modernity on young minds.”
Homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, but hostility to it is widespread and authorities have cracked down on LGBT events. On Monday, a presidency spokesman said “LGBT propaganda poses a grave threat to freedom of speech,” and the IFRC “became complicit in that attack by targeting” Kinik.