On Friday, the Governorship of Istanbul banned the Istanbul Trans Pride March for June 19th and Istanbul LGBTI Pride March, planned to take place on June 26th, quoting security concerns.
The bans come at a time of increased crackdown on media, political opposition and minorities.
Regardless of the ban, around 50 protesters gathered Sunday, June 19th, without the intention to march. However, police used teargas and rubber bullets in order to disperse the group. At least three participants in the gathering were detained by the police.
Furthermore, anti-LGBTI protesters also attacked the demonstrators, burning at least one pride flag.
Last year the Istanbul Pride was also banned last-minute and attacked by the police.
Commenting on the events Intergroup Co-President Daniele Viotti MEP and Intergroup Member Terry Reintke MEP, who both will be flying to Istanbul for the LGBTI Pride March this Sunday, reacted: “Over the last six years trans pride has been able to take place. Before the ban last year the Istanbul Pride has seen up to 80 000 people attending, and police provided security –as it should!”
“This year’s bans and the police violence against Trans Pride are scandalous and an affront to the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly for LGBTI people. We call on the Turkish authorities to withdraw their ban of upcoming Sunday’s Pride march, and ensure the security of all participants that will take part in the march.”
Kati Piri MEP, European Parliament Rapporteur for relations with Turkey and Member of the LGBTI Intergroup, added: “We strongly condemn the threats made by ultra-nationalists to attack members of the LGBTI community if the pride march was to be held. The decision by the government to ban the Istanbul pride, citing security concerns, is regrettable as it is perceived as a victory of the intolerable, radical few.”
“We believe it is not too late to revise this decision. On 26 June the LGBTI community should be protected by the authorities and enabled to celebrate the annual pride parade – without having to fear attacks.”
Ian Duncan MEP, Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup, concluded: “The decision by the Turkish authorities to ban Pride, under the guise of ‘security reasons, is an affront to democracy, pure and simple. More troubling still is the use of tear gas and rubber bullets to attack peaceful protestors. The ruling party has they eyes of the world upon them, and I urge them to change course and allow Istanbul Pride to take place, as it has done for over a decade”