Gay parade activists were left fuming and dejected with Turkey continuing to outlaw the once popular annual Pride parade in Istanbul. The annual event, which started in 2003, had seen over 1,00,000 attendees when last held in 2014. Since 2015, police have often resorted to tear gas shelling and baton charges to disperse any such gatherings or event citing security threats.
On June 26, 2022, the Governor’s office had forbidden the Pride march around Taksim Square in the heart of Istanbul, but protesters assembled flanked by heavy police presence. Police detained more than 200 demonstrators and organizers. Although more than a dozen of detainees were released on the same day, many were held in custody till late night. Agence France-Presse’s (AFP) chief photographer Bulent Kilic, who was handcuffed and taken away by police, was released after his lawyer presented a statement to the police. Police were seen preventing the press from filming these arrests.
Erol Onderoglu of media rights group ‘Reporters Without Borders (RSF) criticized Kilic’s arrest on Twitter. Kaos GL Association, which campaigns to promote the human rights of LGBTQ Twitted that police had detained 12 others in Izmir.
The following twitter hashtags on the LGBT issue were trending in Turkey:
Pride2022 #lstanbulPride #rakrakrakgeliyoruz # direniyoruz
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once a promoter of LGBT rights has increasingly spoken out against the community. Critics of the regime have opined that the main reason is pandering his fundamentalist-orthodox constituency while putting a tight lid on any brewing liberal/secular group movements. The hardening of government’s stance is seen as an indicator of its overall policy of weeding out any minority narratives under the guise of national security and national identity.
Erdogan sits uncomfortably on his throne, trying to ensure that western ideals of democracy do not overthrow his near dictatorial hold on Turkey.