BERLIN – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called homosexuality a “sexual preference” and said it conflicted with the “culture of Islam,” according to a report last week in the Turkish daily Hürriyet.

The remarks rapidly became the subject of criticism on Monday in a widely read European gay media outlet.

Speaking in the Netherlands on Thursday, Erdogan fiercely objected to a Dutch lesbian couple adopting a nine-year-old Turkish boy named Yunus.

“We should hand over Yunus to secure hands. If we say ‘a six-month child cannot make such a decision so it is the judiciary who decides,’ then this could lead to us to a big mistake,” he said in the presence of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

The Dutch leader said the adoption dispute was an internal domestic matter.

According to Hürriyet, Yunus is a Dutch citizen and “was adopted by the Hague-based couple when he was a baby, but his biological mother told Dutch public broadcaster NOS that she wanted him back.”

On Monday, the German language Queer.de – an online news site covering gay issues – stated that Turkey had long been criticized because its conservative government consciously allowed discrimination against homosexuals. The website wrote that the European committee for social rights had criticized Turkey’s government over the last few months for failing “to adequately protect people based on sexual orientation.”

According to Queer.de, the authorities removed Yunus as a young child from his violent family. However, his biological mother demanded on Turkish television as well that Yunus be returned to her. On the television station, which Erodgan’s stepson runs, the program accused the Netherlands of “child abuse.”

As a result of threats, the lesbian couple has gone into hiding.

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