“Men should grow beards. One of the two body parts that separate men from women is the beard,” Turkish preacher Murat Bayaral told religious station Fatih Medreseleri TV on Saturday, as quoted by Hurriyet. He went on to describe a possible scenario in which a man could find himself having “indecent thoughts” about another man.
“For example, if you see a man with long hair from afar you may think he is a woman if he does not have a beard. Because nowadays women and men dress similarly. God forbid! You could be possessed by indecent thoughts,” he said, apparently referring to same-sex relationships.
While homosexuality has long been legalized in Turkey and is not officially persecuted, unlike in many other Muslim-majority states, conservative Islamic preachers consider all same-sex relations to be forbidden. The Turkish LGBT community has also been fighting for the introduction of anti-discrimination laws, as well as for the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Conservative sentiment on same-sex relations is said to be dominant in Turkish society, with some elected officials openly opposing them. Former Minister of Women and Family Affairs, Selma Aliye Kavaf, once said she believes “homosexuality is a biological disorder and this disease needs treatment.”
Meanwhile, beards, which are common among Muslim men, have also been facing some level of discrimination in the West. Last month, a Danish right-wing party argued that doctors with full beards shouldn’t be allowed to practice in the country’s hospitals. Last year, a student in a French high school was threatened with expulsion after refusing to comply with the headmaster’s demand to shave his beard. The school authority called excessive facial hair a “sign of radicalization.”