An interesting piece equates gay rights with the rise of democracy, “But in the Middle East, this debate began long before Orlando. LGBT people in this part of the world have been battling for their rights for years, and not without casualties. Across the region, sexuality has become one of the main battlegrounds in the broader confrontation between advocates for democracy and human rights on the one hand and authorities and conservative religious forces on the other. This is reflected in LGBT activists’ successful alliances with other progressive forces, and in the success they have found championing their own cause by casting it as part of a more general struggle for freedom and dignity. Nowhere has this been more evident than in Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s drive to concentrate power in his own hands is being accelerated in the failed coup attempt. Inherent to Erdogan’s growing authoritarian streak is his push to impose on the Turkish people a set of conservative, Islamist values that impinge on a raft of civil and personal rights. Since his ascent to power in 2003, discrimination has become widespread. Its manifestations range from public homophobic statements by ruling party officials — one former minister in 2010 labelled homosexuality “a biological disease” — to the blocking of gay social media apps and, in 2013, the punishment of a publishing house for releasing a novel with “homosexual content” under the pretext of “indecency.” The crackdown against the LGBT community is part of Erdogan’s grander ambition to Islamise Turkish society while quashing dissent, which many fear will now intensify in the wake of the coup attempt. One Ankara-based activist told me this week she was “highly concerned” about “police-backed” attacks by ruling party members on LGBT activists. Her group has closed its office due to “security concerns.” The harassment of communities that do not fit Erdogan’s Islamist vision has long characterised his rule. In response, LGBT activists have found solidarity with other marginalised groups and civil activists who reject Erdogan’s authoritarian drive and seek a Turkey that is tolerant, diverse, and respectful of individual liberties. This new alliance was on full display during the Gezi Park protests in 2013, when millions of Turks marched nationwide against the government’s autocratic policies”.