Turkey slaps 18+ rating on rainbow, LGBTQ products

Turkey slaps 18+ rating on rainbow, LGBTQ products
2 min read
09 December, 2020
Products with the rainbow colours or references to LGBT must now be sold with an 18+ rating on e-commerce sites, the trade ministry said.
Istanbul residents attend a banned Pride march [Getty]
Turkey has told online retailers to put an 18+ age warning on rainbow-themed and other LGBT-related products, BBC Turkish reported.

Selling such products without an age warning "affects the development of children", the advertising board of the Turkish trade ministry said in a letter.

Promoting rainbow-themed items or products that mention LGBT - an initialism standing for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender - without an 18+ age warning "constitutes a violation of legal regulations" - the ministry said.

Oguz Sahin, deputy general manager of consumer protection and market oversight for the ministry, told e-commerce retailers to impose the 18+ rating as soon as possible.

The decision was taken "unanimously" by members of the advertising board including representatives from the health and justice ministries, sources within the ministry told BBC Turkish.

"The decision was a decision to protect children" and was made amid claims that the "advertisements of such products may adversely affect the mental [and] social development" of children, the sources said.

"There is no prohibition on the sale of the products," the ministry sources added. "It is just stated that platforms selling such products must include an 18+ age warning to protect children." 

Turkey's LGBTQ+ community face frequent harassment and abuse, sometimes from officials.

Although homosexuality is legal in Turkey, LGBTQ+ events have been increasingly blocked in recent years. Istanbul Pride was banned for five years in a row, although it was celebrated online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this year, the head of Turkey's religious ministry sparked controversy after claiming homosexuality caused disease. 

The head of the Turkish Red Crescent also faced a backlash after a tweet in June that appeared to equate homosexuals with paedophiles.

The tweet was defended by presidential spokesperson Fahrettin Altun, who said: "LGBT propaganda poses a grave threat to freedom of speech."

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended both officials' claims, calling on Turks in June to "come out against those who display any kind of perversion forbidden by God".

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