Annual transsexual pride demonstration marches for rights, Gezi Park

Annual transsexual pride demonstration marches for rights, Gezi Park

Annual transsexual pride demonstration marches for rights, Gezi Park

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual (LGBT) community has been very active since day one of the Gezi Park demonstrations in Istanbul. RADİKAL photo, Elif İNCE

Turkish activists staged the fourth annual transsexual pride march today along Istanbul's İstiklal Avenue, which connects with Taksim Square, in an event that turned into a demonstration of support for the ongoing Gezi Park protests. 

LGBT activists, very active in the protests in Taksim, called for the recognition of transsexuals' identity and slammed the dominant homophobia and transphobia in Turkish society, chanting: "We don't want a transphobic state," and "Don't keep silent, shout, there are homosexuals," they chanted. They also used slogans stressing that being a transsexual was not a "disease," in reference to former minister Aliye Kavak, who once stirred outrage by stating that homosexuality was a "disease."

The demonstrators chanted in support of the Gezi Park protesters, with chants such as "Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance," and "This is just the beginning, the struggle continues," which became the hallmark of the countrywide demonstrations.

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputies Sezgin Tanrıkulu and Binnaz Toprak, as well as TV actress Füsün Demiral also attended the march. The public gathered on İstiklal Avenue at the time also showed support for the march with applause.

Toprak was the architect of an inquiry proposal submitted to Parliament last month, seeking to investigate the discrimination faced by lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people (LGBT) in Turkey. The initiative was welcomed by the LGBT community but the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) slammed it, accusing the opposition of "defending immorality."

Although homosexuality and sex change operations are not illegal in Turkey, homosexuals and transsexuals face widespread social and economic discrimination and are often the target of subject of hate speech.

"Pride Week" will conclude next Sunday with the gay pride march, also on İstiklal Avenue.