A Pride march on Istanbul's Taksim Square in 2013 (source: WikiMedia Commons)
Last Sunday, June 26, Turkey’s authorities cracked down on hundreds of demonstrators during a banned Pride March in the center of Istanbul. Since 2015, Ankara has forbidden Pride-related demonstrations, causing mass arrests and repression of LGBTQ+ activists.
Police detained protesters, including an AFP photographer, as they prevented press from filming the arrests. Later, KAOS GL, a prominent LGBTQ+ group, said that more than a hundred activists had been detained. Social media images showed people being frisked and loaded into police vans. Journalists’ organization DISK Basin-Is said that many were beaten by the police.
Conservatism in Turkey’s politics
Turkish authorities had already imposed a seven-day ban on gatherings “in open and closed spaces” to prevent the Pride March. In the beginning of June, 11 LGBTQ+ activists had been arrested – they later claimed to be tortured, showing mages of heavily bruised bodies. Since 2014, when 100,000 people joined the March, Turkish authorities have tried to end Pride-related celebrations altogether. This is in accordance with a stricter stance of Turkish President Erdogan towards groups that do not align with his more religiously conservative policies.
The Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee said it would “continue our activities in safe places and online.” Turkey was one of the first Muslim-majority countries where Pride marches were legally organized. It is imperative that the international community remains attentive on the rights of Turkey’s increasingly threatened LGBTQ+ community.
Photo: WikiMedia Commons