Age restriction for selling products containing rainbow or LGBTI+ symbols: Turkey's Ministry of Trade Age restriction for selling products containing rainbow or LGBTI+ symbols: Turkey's Ministry of Trade

It is claimed that French-born and Turkey-fostered clothing chain-store LC Waikiki’s Turkish Administrators have sent a group of employees of the store a homophobic email announcing that symbolism that might be regarded supporting LGBTI+ identities would be discouraged.

Independent news network Halk TV -known for its stiff criticism of the government- has given place to news asserting that clothing chain LC Waikiki's Turkey executives have sent some employees an email which includes homophobic instructions. After that, other media organizations also put the issue on the agenda in their news portals and social media accounts.

ANTI-LGBTI+ TENDENCIES IN TURKEY ON THE RISE

The case of LGBTI+ rights and social gender equality in Turkey does not have a positive outlook: discrimination, violence, and abuse based on sexual orientation and gender identity are continuously on the rise. Many members of LGBTI+ community in Turkey have been confronting systematic violence promoted by some radical groups in their everyday life and social media as well as getting targeted by state officials.

BANNING THE RAINBOW

It is argued that this time, LC Waikiki Turkey has targeted the LGBTI+ community by prohibiting central figures on clothes that remind LGBTI+ identity to their customers. The store’s management office have specialized its orderings: “Unicorns and rainbows will not be illustrated on clothes, however, if designers are willing to use rainbows they must reduce colors or change tones of colors”. The company has explained reasons for the ban as public morality; the customer sensitivity especially increases in pride months as the visibility of LGBTI+ community increases simultaneously. Also, a file lists figures that symbolize LGBTI+ people was attached to the email.

PRO-GOVERNMENT MEDIA RECLAIMED THE BAN

While the argument took place as a homophobic attitude in some independent and progressive media/news channels, on the other side some sources such as pro-government Takvim, Timeturk have supported LC Waikiki Turkey’s discriminative declarations. For instance, Timeturk has appreciated LC Waikiki’s decision: “The company assisted the state by sewing masks and now it is adopting public morals and saving national values." Moreover, in their coverage of the news some pro-government media have called LGBTI+ individuals as "perverted/sick" and victimized the company because of the boycott campaign initiated by those who reacted against the company's homophobic stand. These homophobic channels approximately use the same text, also took aim at publishers, companies support LGBTI+ rights. Some Eksisözlük (a collaborative hypertext dictionary) contributors have interpreted the claims as a strategy of customer satisfaction. They draw attention to the customer comments that protest against the child clothes which carry rainbows and unicorns on social media. Additionally, it is stated out in the social platform that LC Waikiki’s target audience is working class and lower income groups that are generally opposed to the LGBTI+ individuals expressing themselves; therefore, the company "should be careful with their values". The news had a rapid impact on social media: #lcwaikikiboykot (LC Waikiki Boycott) was at the top of the trends in Turkey and #tebriklerlcwaikiki (Congratulations LC Waikiki) was on the third line among trends. The company has not responded to claims yet.