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28 Jun 2022

Nearly 400 people arrested in police crackdown against LGBTQ celebrations in Istanbul

Official Pride events were banned but the LGBTQ community still triied to celebrate.

Police in riot gear cracked down on Pride celebrations on Sunday (26 June), after politician announced on 20 June they were banning all Pride-related events for a week.
In images circulating on social media, police can be seen in full riot gear while metal fences cordon off streets in and surrounding Taksim Square in Istanbul. To try to prevent the march, metro services were shut down for several hours.
Kaos GL, one of the largest LGBT+ rights groups in Turkey, said that arrests started to be made prior to the intended 5pm march start.
Riot police begun to enter bars and other local venues, allegedly arresting people “at random”.
Before the march’s planned start it was reported that 52 had been detained. Kaos GL said on Monday (27 June) that in total, 373 people were arrested and released after a night in custody.
Neither the police or the governor’s office has given any official numbers regarding the arrests.
According to AFP journalists, four busloads of detained protesters were taken away. Among them was the outlet’s chief photographer, Bulent Kilic; AFP journalists reporting from the march said that police tried to prevent them from filming any arrests.
Despite police attempts, a sea of images soon started to appear across social media of the unfolding scenes.
DISK Basin-Is, a journalist union, said that many of the protesters were physically attacked and beaten by police.
The march, planned to celebrate 30 years of Pride in Istanbul, was banned on 20 June under the Law on Demonstrations and Public Meetings.
The governor’s office said in a statement: “We have obtained information that between 21 June 2022 (Tuesday) and 23 June 2022 (Thursday) gatherings, press releases, marches, distribution of leaflets, etc are planned to be held within the scope of the 30th ‘Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week.”
The Istanbul LGBTQ+ Pride Week Committee issued a statement shortly after the announcement, saying that the decision was “illegal” and that they would use “our rights [to] make the necessary objections”.
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Istanbul has banned Pride marches since 2015, though large crows have gathered in years since in support of LGBTQ+ rights.
While political opposition is strong, France24 reported that local residents showed solidarity with the protesters by banging pans from their windows and balconies.
Despite the unrest, Kaos GL are defiant. “We do not give up, we are not afraid,” the group said in a statement.

Official events to celebrate LGBTQ Pride in Istanbul had been banned by authorities but on 26 June the LGBTQ community tried to come together to demonstrate their visibility and resilience.

This unofficial demonstration of queer pride was met with police in riot-gear and streets blocked off by metal fences. Metro services were also suspended to try and prevent people gathering.

Arrests began that morning - police entering bars and other queer venues and allegedly arresting people at random.

Local reports indicate that at least 373 people were arrested as part of the crackdown, with most held in custody for the night. 

Reports indicate that a number of journalists were also arrested as part of the crackdown.

What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Turkey?

What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Turkey? Let’s take a look at some of the key equality indicators.

Is homosexuality legal in Turkey?

Yes. Same-sex sexual activity was decriminalised by the Ottoman Empire in 1858, and this was unchanged when modern-day Turkey emerged in 1923.

Are there anti-discrimination protections in place for LGBTQ people in Turkey?

No. There are no protections against discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.

Is there Marriage Equality in Turkey?

No. There is no legal recognition for same-sex relationships.

What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Turkey?

Turkey is a socially conservative country. Homosexuality is seen as a taboo subject.

Homophobia is systemic.

LGBTQ people generally conceal their sexuality.

Attempts to hold LGBTQ Pride celebrations in Istanbul have consistently been a point of conflict between the LGBTQ community and the authorities in Turkey.

Reader's Comments

1. 2022-06-29 00:24  
Definitely no holiday destination for gay people. I would never give my money to people who would put me and my comrades in prison. Leave Turkey out of the EU!

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