In a devastating blow for the LGBTQ+ community in Turkey, all Pride Week events and activities have been forbidden in İstanbul, the country’s largest city.
“All activities planned for the 30th Pride Week between June 21-27 have been banned in order to maintain peace and security,” reads a statement on the Kadıköy district governor’s office website.
The decision was announced on Monday, June 20, with the statement also citing crime prevention as a reason for the ban.
Notably, homosexuality is not criminalised in Turkey, but the country ranked 48th out of 49 countries in IGLA Europe’s 2022 Rainbow Europe Map which rates European countries in terms of LGBTQ+ rights.
İstanbul is not the first Turkish city to be affected by similar decisions; the Stockholm Centre for Freedom found that there has been an increasing number of bans on Pride events across the country, with TurkishMinute reporting that there has also been an increase in surveillance on all Pride activities.
The İstanbul Pride Week Committee said that a number of venues for Pride events have been raided by authorities as part of supposed “general inspections”. The Committee have also said on Twitter that they will not give up on their Pride Week, as they believe the ban to be illegal.
“Today, with the start of Istanbul 30th LGBTI+ Pride Week, police inspected the venues where the events would take place, under the guise of ‘general control’,” they stated. “The law enforcement officers tried to put pressure on the venues by asking for documents such as tax plates. We would like to thank our entire network of lawyers and venues that have supported us. We won’t give up, we are not afraid!”
In 2014, İstanbul was host to a very successful Pride march that saw 100,000 people in attendance, which prompted the government to ban future similar events due to concerns about security. TurkishMinute also reports that it is not uncommon for Turkish politicians including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to “attack” LGBTQ+ individuals, “and accuse them of perversion and ruining family values.”
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