Dozens of LGBTQ+ activists arrested for defying Istanbul Pride ban

This was the ninth consecutive time that the Pride march in the Turkish city was banned.

Istanbul LGBTQ+ Pride March 2023
Image: @ridiculesublime (via Twitter)

On Sunday, June 25, activists in Istanbul held an LGBTQ+ Pride march, defying a ban put in place by local authorities. This was the ninth consecutive time the march had been forbidden, alongside all other Pride events in the city.

As protestors tried to exercise their right to assembly, police violently intervened detaining dozens of participants. While there are conflicting reports about the exact number of arrests made, anti-LGBTQ+ Istanbul governor Davut Gül tweeted: “113 people who took action with the aim of making propaganda were detained”. 

The bans on Pride-related assemblies are in line with the hateful rhetoric used by the government, and the clash between protestors and authorities comes just one month after Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was reelected as president – his campaign heavily featuring anti-LGBTQ+ narratives.

Among other things, the Turkish leader and his government assert that queer people are posing a “threat” to family values, as marriage is solely meant as a union between a man and woman. This argument was also the reason given for the cancellation of all of the city’s Pride events, with Gül stating on social media that there would be no permission for events that “threaten (the) institution of the family”. 


While LGBTQ+ events have been banned all across the county, recent judgments have found these decisions to be unlawful.

Over the course of three years, eight different courts in Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Mersin, and Adana ruled that the prohibition of LGBTQ+ Pride events by public authorities without evidence and justification for the existence of a clear, concrete and imminent danger violates not only the Turkish constitution but also the European Convention on Human Rights. Furthermore, just this month, a Regional Court of Appeal upheld the acquittal of 19 people detained at the Istanbul Pride march in 2021.

However, the nation’s government has a history of disregarding these rulings. Last year, over 300 people were detained in the annual Istanbul Pride event, and this year, in the western city of Izmir where Pride demonstrations were also banned, police detained at least 52 people.

It has been announced that those detained at Istanbul Pride this weekend, whose statement has been taken by the police, have been released, but the whereabouts of some of the activists is still unclear.

© 2023 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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