Turkey's relationship to LGBTQ issues may seem paradoxical. Although tolerance is generally low, gay, bisexual and transgender people have long found a relative refuge in cosmopolitan Istanbul. Turkey's celebrity world is full of popular eccentric divas, where everyone really knows about their orientation, even if it is never said openly.

But in recent years, something has happened. The Pride Parade is no longer allowed. Politicians are increasingly making statements about "foreign threats to our traditions and values".

It is as if one of Erdogan's spin doctors has made a study trip to Russia and realized that there is an unused gold mine here for lucrative publicity.

A warning finger

Human rights organizations raise a warning finger that the development risks making the situation of already vulnerable LGBTQ people even worse.

But the Netflix deal, in which Turkey is said to have tried to pressure a Turkish production company to remove an openly homosexual character from the script, is also startling for another reason.

It is about the tactics of getting the international digital platforms on their knees, by threatening to pull the plug on an important market. A strategy that is not without success.

Interrupted recording

Admittedly, Netflix chose this time to interrupt the filming of the relationship drama If Only instead of bowing to demands for script changes. But if one is to believe Turkish government officials, they have actually managed to get Netflix to put cartoon characters in the closet earlier.

It concerns Osman in the popular teenage drama Love 101. Osman can be described as a Turkish equivalent of Dylan in Beverly Hills, sweet as sugar but hard as stone.

According to the original script, Osman must have been openly gay. But after pressure from the Turkish government, Netflix gave in and removed all expression of his position.

Then there were no headlines about censorship. Netflix probably wanted the whole thing to be forgotten.

Success often

Turkey relatively often succeeds in pressuring social media giants such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to remove material that the Turkish government considers reprehensible for political reasons. Digital platforms have also been shut down for years, including Youtube and Wikipedia.

But Erdogan wants even more control over what is spread on social media in Turkey, in the same way that in practice he has almost total control over the traditional media landscape with TV and newspapers.

On Tuesday, a bill was presented in the Turkish parliament that requires Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other companies to censor content following Turkish court decisions. If the media companies do not agree to the demands, they will be threatened with multi-million fines, stopped advertising revenues and restricted bandwidth.

This is scary because social media is a lifeline to reliable information for many in Turkey. But no company wants to lose access to a market with 83 million people, which Erdogan uses. It is to be hoped that the international media companies will fight back.