ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
More than a thousand people gathered on Beyoğlu’s famous İstiklal Avenue on June 24 to mark the beginning of pride week. The week will be celebrated with a number of activities in the city and another major march will take place on July 1. DAILY NEWS photo
An ultranationalist group attempted to attack participants in Turkey’s third transsexual pride parade in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square on June 24, but police stopped the group before anyone suffered serious injuries.
Members of Alperen Ocakları, the youth wing of the Islamist Great Unity Party (BBP), threw stones and bottles at a group of thousands of people wearing costumes and carrying colorful banners for the parade.
Police intervened and blocked the attackers’ path to İstiklal Avenue in order to provide security for the marchers. The attacking group, who had gathered to commemorate recently fallen Turkish soldiers, chanted slogans such as “the only flag allowed here is the Turkish flag, not that piece of fabric.”
M.D, one of the marchers who wanted to conceal her identity, said the transsexual pride march was started in Turkey three years ago and that it was different to gay pride demonstrations as it sought to draw attention to hate murders committed in Turkey.
She added that although she was a college graduate, she had not been hired for any job because of her sexual orientation. “I am here to be visible, to raise my voice just one day and to tell people that we have the same rights and that we need social security like anyone else. I have applied for hundreds of jobs but was never accepted because of discrimination. They are forcing us to be sex
workers,” she said.
Another marcher, Nikola, who has been living in Istanbul for a number of years, said such a parade could not be held in his home country Croatia and that that was why he was thrilled by the crowd. “It is great that a gay parade can be done in a Muslim country, because in Croatia we cannot do it,” he said.
Halil Gürel, who studies sociology in the southwestern province of Muğla, joined the parade to lend his support for gay rights.
“I am a member of Turkey’s Green Party and the ecologist movement is against all violence and discrimination. The green movement always stands by women, lesbians, gays, transsexuals, travestites and bisexual activists,” he said.