Istanbul Pride goes ahead despite ban, police violence
Despite being banned by the authorities and threats to arrest anyone “looking gay,” Istanbul Pride went ahead with a party of love and celebration before being broken up by police. “We are here this year, as we are every year.”
Istanbul’s Pride parade has been banned four four consecutive years, despite homosexuality not being illegal in Turkey. Each year, organisers and participants have proceeded anyway, despite threats and arrests.
Yesterday, in a message posted to the Istanbul Pride Facebook page, the organisers said that again the event would happen, despite opposition.
“This march is organized in order to fight against the violence and discrimination fuelled by that governorship decision.
“We would like to inform the press and the public that we will go ahead with our prideful march with the same ambition as we had before.”
Amnesty International joined calls against the ban, asking for pressure on the governor of Istanbul about the brutal treatment of LGBT people at the event, specifically the use of high-pressure water cannons:
? Breaking news ? We've just heard that #IstanbulPride has been banned. Help us tell the Governor of Istanbul @vasipsahin that this denial of human rights will not go unnoticed! This year we want ??? pic.twitter.com/OX6l9VGqf8
— Amnesty International (@amnesty) June 29, 2018
Today, the event went ahead, with the parade taking to the streets of Istanbul, despite reports that police were threatening to arrest “anyone that “looks gay, wears rainbows or bright feminine colors, or has on too short of shorts.”
The pride parade hasn’t started yet, but the police seem prepared to funnel people straight into paddy wagons once it does. Apparently the police will arrest anyone that “looks gay, wears rainbows or bright feminine colors, or has on too short of shorts.” #IstanbulPride pic.twitter.com/LqFMVdU7tK
— Christos “Stose” Poulos (@Stose) July 1, 2018
Despite this, the parade went ahead with thousands taking to the streets of Istanbul in celebration.
— berke (@BerkeAteslii) July 1, 2018
— Lene Christensen (@ChristensenLene) July 1, 2018
Police harassed and arrested Pride marchers through the streets but organisers were determined to reach Taksim square, in order to read a press release about the event.
Istanbul Pride tweeted “Despite all the police intervention, we are reading our press release on the streets of Taksim. We’re still here!”
Bütün polis müdahelelerine rağmen Taksim sokaklarında basın açıklamamızı okuyoruz. Alışın hala buradayız! #OnurYürüyüşü
— İstanbul LGBTİ+ Onur Haftası (@istanbulpride) July 1, 2018
The press release, in Turkish, decried police and state brutality against Istanbul Pride and affirmed that the parade would continue regardless.
“These walks have become more and more difficult every year, and since we’ve been faced with hate, we’ve been able to keep ourselves safe for the lgbti+ and to open up our voices. Unlike these peaceful provocations, the state’s hate crimes have become visibly visible to police brutality.
We are here this year, as we are every year.”
It went on to say that the LGBT community would not be divided or lessened by the violence and that Istanbul Pride would never give up on reaching and celebrating in Taksim.
“Today, with honor and respect, we ridicule those who are trying to draw boundaries around us.
We call on all of you to make fun of our identities, our weaknesses, our bodies, our bodies, our language, our desires, and everything that makes us who we are.
“We are expanding our own movement and expanding our borders. We will expand limitlessly into the streets. You’re going to have to lock us up first, then you’re going to try to turn us away from our own people, and we’re not giving up on Taksim. [Square]”