24th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Starts We are together, we are united, we are strong!


24th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week will take place between June 20-26, 2016 with the theme “We unite!” and many activities such as panels, workshops, and forums will be organized. Signatures are collected for a petition that asks for the Pride March to take place in safety, as last year’s march was subjected to police intervention.


Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week, now a tradition, celebrates its 24th year. With the theme “We unite!”, 24th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week activities will take place free of charge at venues in and around Taksim, between June 20-26, 2016.

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March has been organized for 12 years with the participation of tens of thousands but a ban was attempted last year. For the 14th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March a petition is being circulated to ensure the security and to guarantee the constitutional rights. The signatures will be submitted to the Istanbul Governorate with the demand that the march takes place safely, without police intervention.

The Pride Week Committee states “We want to be on the streets this year for the Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March, as we have every year in peace, with crowds reaching tens of thousands. Following the Orlando massacre, let’s raise our voices despite those who oppress love, spread hate, and refuse to recognize the LGBTI+ community.” in the invitation.

18 LGBTI+ organizations from 17 cities will be at Pride Week activities within the theme of “We Unite!”: The forum will bring together activists, LGBTI+ associations, unions and LGBTI+ branches of political parties, LGBTI+ student clubs and independent activists from different cities including Eskişehir, İzmir, Antakya, Diyarbakır, Mersin, Gaziantep, Afyon, Adana, Çanakkale and Trabzon, and converse about different states of coming together, alternative ways of getting organized, what is being done and what can be done in the current conditions when even getting out to the streets is difficult.

This year for the first time, a plus has been added to the end of the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex) acronym to make sure no sexual, romantic and gender identity is left behind. Pride Week Committee indicated that with this update “all combinations of the rainbow palette exist in our movement” and that they aim for “the socialization of the conscience that no one can be assigned an identity by judging from the outside”.

“We Unite For… Love, Freedom, Peace, Solidarity, Streets”

Pride Week Committee explains why they chose this year’s theme:

“We start the 24th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week with a wounded heart, with a new power to struggle with. There are many threats we are up against but we are a great crowd as well. We sometimes find each other in an association, in a party, in a union, other times in an office, in a factory, a neighborhood, an avenue. Against a growing danger that wants to devour us, we unite. All around the globe, in every city of Turkey, in every district of Istanbul we come together, stand by each other and grow our struggle. Therefore, for these very reasons, this year’s theme is: “We Unite!”

This year, we set sail with the enthusiasm of new friends, the memory of the lovers and friends we lost.

We come together to discover our desires that are imprisoned between four walls. We unite for love, desire and friendship.

We want to free and change not only our lives but everyone’s lives. We want to have equal rights with everyone else. We want laws to protect us, a justice without “provocations”, excuses or “but”s. We unite for freedom, equality and justice.

We come together to hold them accountable for the lives war took away from us, to beat our fears, we come together for our labor that is ignored, criminalized, devalued, to stand by our ghettos, to take back our city stolen from us, to paint Istiklal Avenue in rainbow colors like we did for the last 13 years. We unite for peace, labor, and the streets.

We know that our only hope to get out of this darkness is to unite. We know there is no salvation on our own, that we will be liberated altogether, that loving is uniting. We always knew to stand by each other, to have solidarity to survive, we will always continue to do so. We unite for hope, love and solidarity.

We will not give up on our pride, uniting for our pride. We will stand tall, we will not give in, not even an inch. We are on Ulker Street, in Eryaman, Orlando, Bangladesh, there is no piece of land on which we haven’t united or resisted against homophobia and transphobia. This world does not turn without us and will not exist by ignoring us. May our 24th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week be happy.”


The schedule of Pride Week, as was the case in previous years, is full of activities such as panels, film screenings, plays, performances, workshops, and parties.

The activities include talks and workshops on compulsory military service and peace, on the hardships endured by trans individuals while transitioning, on the sex work with the participation of sex workers and related associations, on the different experiences of being both a LGBTI+ and a refugee, on LGBTI rights and political arena and on the speciesism.

Within the scope of the schedule, activists from different parts of Turkey, the Middle East and Europe will share their experiences of struggling and existing in different geographical regions.

In relation to this year’s theme “We unite!”, LGBTI Organizations of Turkey Forum comprised of LGBTI+ associations, unions and LGBTI+ branches of political parties, LGBTI+ student clubs and independent activists will take place on June 24, 17:00 at Salt Galata.

On the same day, there will be an iftar feast that will be prepared on Istiklal Avenue under the name “Rainbow Feast” to break fast.

A football tournament, a surprise cycling tour, parties, self-defense workshop against homophobic and transphobic assaults, and film screenings of #direnayol and Kurneqiz/Trans Woman with the participation of directors and actors, mental health professionals’ meeting, mass HIV test day and safe sex workshop are among the activities.

An exhibition in the memory of Boysan, Zeliş ve Mert

The LGBTI+ Pride Week Exhibition will be organized for the seventh time this year with the title From Where to Where. The exhibition will consist of the 13 works chosen by jury members Gözde İlkin, İlhan Sayın, Şafak Şule Kemancı and Sena Başöz from 34 submissions and it will take place at Boysan Yakar’s house on Üftade Street in Harbiye. The exhibition commemorates Mert Serçe, Boysan Yakar and Zeliş Deniz, friends we lost last September and it includes Boysan Yakar’s work as well.

The exhibition will be open to visit every day 13:00-18:30 between June 20-26.


The Genetically Modified Tomato Homophobia-Transphobia Awards will be given for the 12th time this year. The nominees are determined by an open call each year. The awards detect and “reward” the homophobic/transphobic speeches and actions, this year 12th Genetically Modified Tomato Awards will be announced on a special night at Şişli Urban Cultural Center on Thursday, June 23.


We plan to close the week with the 14th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March on Sunday, 26 June. Pride Week Committee have started a petition to ensure that Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March is not banned this year but takes place without problems, saying “we want to be on the streets with our flags, our colors, our love, our banners and wishing for a mass march that have reached a hundred thousand people in the past. They say they are expecting everyone to join Pride Week at a time when their rights, existence, and love are being ignored, after the tragedy in Orlando, to show once again that they are united, strong, and organized. And they add:

If you are not with us, we are way too few!




Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Online Petition


Genetically Modified Tomato Award Votes


Interview Requests and Special News Stories:

Görkem Ulumeriç 0532 695 80 15

Lara Özlen 0536 437 41 61  


About Pride Week: On 28 June 1969, gay and trans individuals at New York’s Stonewall Inn rose up against the oppression and violence directed at them for a long time, locked the police inside the bar; demonstrations and clashes last for 4 days and spread to the streets. This day was a turning point for the LGBTI+ rights struggle and is celebrated as Pride Week across the world. In 1993, the first Pride Week in Turkey was titled “Sexual Freedom Week”. However, the governorate’s ban led to detentions and deportations of foreign guests. Pride March could not take place. Facing these bans, the movement’s demands and social support grew in strength and the first Istanbul Pride March took place in 2003, exactly ten years after the first Pride Week. 20-30 people attended that first march but attendance multiplied every year. In 2013, an estimated 100.000 people attended the march on Istiklal Avenue. In 2015, the 13th Pride March was banned by the police in an unexpected way. The LGBTI+ movement, determined to keep fighting, wants to fill the streets again for the 14th Pride March on 26 June 2016. Pride Week events are organized by a group of independent volunteers who answer the yearly call for support.

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