LGBTQ+ volleyball champion hits a nerve in Turkey’s culture war

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09/05/2023

Turkey’s women volleyballers may have won the European championship on Sunday but the presence of a prominent LGBTQ+ star in the team has reopened the country’s bitterly divisive culture war. The storm over 1.96m-tall Ebrar Karakurt is one of the most high-profile tests of the country’s social direction since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won re-election at the end of May on a conservative Islamist platform, in which he repeatedly pledged to protect traditional families from the “deviant structures” and “virus of heresy” represented by the LGBTQ+ community. Although Erdoğan himself congratulated the team — nicknamed the “Sultans of the Net” — there has been a tide of invective on social media, and the government is accused of doing little to defend Karakurt from widespread homophobic attacks from the country’s Islamist camp.

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