Governor’s Office bans LGBT Pride march in Istanbul
ISTANBULThe Istanbul Governor’s Office has announced that it will not allow the LGBT Pride March, which was set to take place between June 19 and June 26 in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, citing security concerns and public order.
“Our governorate will not allow such a meeting and demonstration march on the mentioned days, based on concerns regarding the security of our citizens, primarily the participants, and public order,” the Governor’s Office said in a statement issued on its website.
It also urged citizens not to heed other calls on the march and to obey the security forces’ warnings.
Meanwhile, the LGBTİ+Pride Week Committee called the governor’s office’s decision unlawful.
“The Istanbul Governor’s Office has indicated threats against the march as the reason [for the prohibition]. We declare once more from here: The fundamental duty of the state is not to avert the usage of rights but to eliminate situations that prevent the usage of rights. In other words, the governor’s office has chosen to waste human rights and freedoms rather than take precautions against threats. The right to organize meetings and demonstration marches is a part of the freedom of expression which is one of the most fundamental human rights and has been put under protection by both constitutional and international conventions,” the committee said in a statement.
It also said the governor’s office tried to avert last year’s march due to the sensitivity of some groups in Ramadan, leading to injuries amid police intervention.
The planned LGBT Pride March in Istanbul had drawn threats from the Turkish ultranationalist groups.
The Alperen Hearths, an ultranationalist youth organization linked to the nationalist Great Union Party (BBP), had initially vowed that they would prevent the march but later stepped back, saying that they only wanted their religious values to be taken into consideration.
Meanwhile, BBP leader Mustafa Destici also objected to the LGBT Pride March.
“Let them go and march wherever they want but they cannot do it in my home country. My country cannot be demonstrated as a county of perverts,” Destici said on June 16, speaking at an iftar dinner in the Black Sea province of Düzce.
However, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Selina Doğan warned both the Istanbul Governor’s Office and the Istanbul Police Department following threats by the Alperen Hearths.
Although the march had been conducted in peace for 13 years in Istanbul, last year it was prevented by police who fired tear gas and rubber bullets at thousands of people who attempted to gather, Doğan recalled.
She also warned about direct threats against LGBT people this year.
According to a recent study by the Ankara-based Gay and Lesbian Cultural Researches and Solidarity Association (Kaos GL), one of the key obstacles facing the LGBT community in Turkey is the continued lack of legal protection.