In light of recent international incidences of discrimination, hate speech, and hate crimes perpetrated against the LGBTQI community, the International LGBTQI Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO) seeks to raise our voice concerning the ban of both The Istanbul Trans Pride and the LGBTQI Istanbul Pride, and to ask the city’s Governor to remove the ban and ensure the safety and protection of all the participants, both members of the Turkish LGBTQI community and their allies, who decide to march with pride in Istanbul.
On the 19th of June, only one day after the international LGBTQI community and their allies were shocked by the horrific anti-LGBTQI and racist hate crime which saw 49 people murdered at an LGBTQI venue in Orlando, Florida, we witnessed another violent attack against our community, this time against those participating in the 7th Istanbul Trans Pride March.
Both the 7th Trans Pride March and the Pride March (due to happen on the 26th of June) were banned by the local authorities, in contradiction to the country’s constitution, having cited ‘security concerns’. While nationalist groups have threatened to attack events during Istanbul Pride week for reasons of ‘immorality’, Istanbul security forces were responsible for attacks against participants taking part in the Trans Pride, with reports of arbitrary violence and violent crowd control measures, including the use of tear gas and rubber bullets.
One of the reason brought forward by the authorities for banning the Pride marches was that Pride Week coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (fasting month). For the past decade the Pride March has been held during Ramadan and this was not considered an issue until last year. Therefore, it is evident that the ban of these Pride marches does not have to do with religious beliefs but is a populist move from the government to please ultranationalist and islamist groups. Additionally, IGLYO would like to emphasize that religious beliefs cannot be used to excuse the violation of fundamental human rights while also praising the numerous LGBTQI Muslims and allies who participate and support the Pride marches each year.
With this statement IGLYO wishes to show solidarity with the Turkish LGBTQI movement, which is struggling for visibility and civil and social rights under very difficult circumstances.
On the eve of the forthcoming Istanbul Pride March, we, the International LGBTQI Youth and Student Organisation, call upon Istanbul’s local authorities to take all required preventive measures to ensure the security of those participating in Pride events and activities and to actively work to prevent possible attacks against the Istanbul Pride March, thus ensuring the participants’ freedom of assembly. Freedom of Assembly is a fundamental human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as explicitly protected under articles 33 and 34 of the Turkish Constitution for all its citizens.
We furthermore ask the Turkish authorities to take action to actively protect the local LGBTQI community by holding the nationalist groups that threatened Pride March and called upon their followers to directly attack the Istanbul Pride March accountable for their threats and actions. This should be done to the full extent of the law.
Finally, we call upon the local authorities to ensure that security personnel are not used to harass, intimidate or harm members of the Turkish LGBTQI community and their allies, who decide to march with pride in Istanbul.
The following words are taken directly from the Trans Pride Press Statement, by Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association:
“We, the children of the rainbow, shout out once again:
We are the owners of these lands and the guarantors of a bright future!
We will continue to fight for an equal, free, and democratic world.
We bow with respect to the memory of our friends massacred in Orlando and promise a world without homophobia and transphobia!
Don’t forget Orlando, don’t let anyone forget!
Despite hate, hooray life!
Hate crimes are political!”
32 Hate Crimes Directed at LGBTI People Appeared in the Press in 2015