Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan complained this week that he was uncomfortable with the use of what he described as “LGBT colors” at the United Nations, which is decorated this week with bright colors promoting the Sustainable Development Goals.
Erdogan said he would have liked to discuss it with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Turkish media reported on Thursday.
“One of the issues that bothers me the most … is that when entering the United Nations General Assembly, you see the LGBT colors on steps and other places,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by broadcaster Haberturk and others.
“How many LGBT are there in the world right now? However much right they have on these steps, those against LGBT have as much right as well,” said Erdogan, who has frequently labeled members of the LGBTQ community as “deviants” and particularly toughened his rhetoric during his election campaign this year.
However, some U.N. diplomats suggested Erdogan might have confused the 17 different colors associated with the Sustainable Development Goals — and decorating parts of U.N. headquarters, including steps, for a summit that was held earlier this week — with the rainbow Pride colors associated with LGBTQ rights.
While Guterres has been a vocal supporter of LGBTQ rights and spoken out about discrimination, there are no rainbow Pride colors at U.N. headquarters promoting LGBTQ rights.
A spokesperson for Guterres did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Erdogan’s remarks.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by world leaders in 2015 with a deadline of 2030, are a global “to do” list that includes wiping out hunger, extreme poverty, battling climate change and inequality, and promoting gender equality.
Homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, but hostility to it is widespread, and police crackdowns on Pride parades have become tougher over the years.