Turkish prosecutors are seeking three-year jail terms for seven students over a poster depicting Islam’s holiest site with LGBT imagery, local media reported on Friday.
The seven students, two of them are in detention, are accused of “inciting hatred and animosity”, the private NTV broadcaster reported. They face jail terms between one to three years.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s appointment of a loyalist as rector of Istanbul’s elite Bogazici University created a stir and led to weeks of protests since the start of the year.
The dispute over the rector intensified after protesters hung a controversial poster near his office.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu called them “LGBT freaks” while Erdogan distanced his party’s supporters from what he dubbed “LGBT youth”.
Erdogan’s comments were condemned by the United States.
“We are concerned by detentions of students and other demonstrators and strongly condemn the anti-LGBTQIA rhetoric surrounding the demonstrations,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
Homosexuality has been legal throughout modern Turkey’s history but Istanbul Pride has been banned since 2016.
Bogazici University’s LGBT club was disbanded after the incident but the rector insisted that he “respects every identity”.