Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to have mistakenly confused the colours representing the global “to do” list for the United Nations with the rainbow Pride flag.
Mr Erdogan complained about the display of 17 different colours at the UN General Assembly in New York.
He described the brightly coloured display, intended to promote sustainable development goals, with the “LGBT colours”.
Mr Erdogan said he would have liked to discuss it with UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, according to Turkish media. The president’s government has toughened its stance on LGBT freedoms.
He has frequently labelled members of the community as “deviants” and toughened his language during Turkey’s presidential election campaign earlier this year.
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Mr Erdogan is reported to have said to Turkish media: “One of the issues that bothers me the most… is that when entering the United Nations General Assembly, you see the LGBT colours on steps and other places.
“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.”
While Mr Guterres has been a vocal supporter of LGBT rights and spoken out about discrimination, there are no Pride colours on display at UN headquarters.
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 and extreme poverty, combating climate change and inequality, and promoting gender equality.
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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.
The original rainbow flag was created by Gilbert Baker in 1978 to celebrate members of the gay and lesbian movement. It was initially made up of eight coloured stripes stacked on top of each other to represent a rainbow – a symbol of hope.
Each colour was given a specific meaning: pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for magic, indigo for serenity and violet for spirit.
A year later the pink and turquoise stripes were dropped owing to a shortage of pink fabric at the time and legibility concerns, resulting in the six-colour rainbow flag now most commonly used.
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