While countries around the world celebrated Pride over the weekend, the Turkish Police in Istanbul arrested 25 attendees at a Pride gathering, including a photojournalist.
Riot police blocked streets during the protest for LGBTQ+ rights and fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd gathered.
While Pride protests have been officially banned since 2014, smaller protest groups have formed every year to mark the occasion – apart from the 2020 celebrations, due to Covid restrictions.
Ahead of the protest march, the group Istanbul Pride had shared on social media, “We, as LGBT+, women, workers, Kurds and students, are determined to stand together against all the attacks directed against us by the state.
“We will organise together, shout together in the street, party again, protect and grow our safe spaces, all together. Because we know, behind all bans, attacks, blockings and attempts to ignore, there is fear!”
This is what’s happening in Turkey today.
As thousands celebrate #IstanbulPride police throw tear gas and assault people.
When people ask you why #Pride still matters, show them these #OnurHaftası pic.twitter.com/oPtUm82Pfw
— Tom Knight (@TJ_Knight) June 26, 2021
LGBTQ+ rights in Turkey have been increasingly under threat in recent times. In April of this year, a group of student ‘defenders’ of Pride were arrested for organising a student Pride on their university campus.
The university called the police about the sit-in and the peaceful protesters were met with excessive force including tear gas. At least 23 students and an academic were detained, several of whom had not even taken part in the protest.
The events inspired a worldwide response, with the hashtag LoveIsOnTrial trending across social media.
We are calling on @abdulhamitgul to ensure that the 19 LGBTQ+ activists on trial for their participation in a peaceful Pride Protest @METU_ODTU in 2019 are acquitted at their trial on April 30th. #LoveIsOnTrial
Sign the petition now: https://t.co/eAwzHBzABd@AmnestyIreland pic.twitter.com/iZ2l8Qd4Op
— Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride (@DublinPride) April 26, 2021
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the time in an address to party members, “There is no such thing as LGBT. This country is national, spiritual and walking toward the future with these values.”
In March of this year, Turkey abandoned a European treaty offering protection against domestic and gender-based violence because authorities believed its principles of gender equality and non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation promoted homosexuality and undermined ‘traditional’ family values.
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