A Turkish pop star and LGBTQ+ ally has been jailed for making a joke about the country’s religious schools.
A Turkish state-run news agency has reported that Gülsen, one of Turkey’s pop stars, was arrested last week for “inciting hatred and enmity” NBC reports. The charges stem from a comment the singer made on stage at a concert in April, in which she joked that one of her band member’s “perversion” was the result of his attending a religious school.
In a message posted to her social media accounts, Gülsen – whose full name is Gülsen Colakoglu – apologized “to everyone who was offended” while also maintaining that she was “defending freedom of expression,” and implied that her comments had been seized by those looking to “polarise society,” BBC reports.
Gülsen has been openly criticized by religious conservatives for her revealing outfits and support of the LGBTQ+ community. In addition to unfurling a rainbow flag on stage during a concert, the singer, when she was named Style Icon of the Year by Elle in June, dedicated her win on Twitter to “to all women and lgbtq+ who do not give up on their dreams, beliefs and colors, no matter the circumstances.”
Elle Style Awards gecesinden
“Yılın stil ikonu” ödülümle döndüm eve. 💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙
Ödülümü, şartlar ne olursa olsun hayallerinden, inandıklarından, renklerinden vazgeçmeyen tüm kadınlara ve lgbtq+ a ithaf ediyorum. @ELLETurkey pic.twitter.com/Vjdko03Tm0
— Gülşen (@gulsen) June 2, 2022
In a statement reported by the BBC, lawyer Feyza Altun said that the charges against Gülsen had “no legal reasons” and that her arrest was the result of her support for the LGBTQ+ as well as her “defiant attitude.”
Critics of the government of conservative president Recep Tayyip Erdogan have also criticized the move as politically motivated, claiming that it is his way of drumming up support ahead of next year’s elections.
Video of Gülsen’s comments in April went viral after it was re-posted this month by a pro-government source, Agence France Presse reports.
On Monday, she was removed from jail and placed under house arrest, where she is awaiting trail.