Dear Members of the Press,
On June 20, at Çağlayan Courthouse at 11:00, we filed a criminal complaint against groups such as Muslim Anatolian Youth, Alperen Hearths Foundation, Tembihname, Özgür-Der, and the Greater Union Party (BBP) for their hate speech and threatening statements that targeted us. Since we do not have a legal personality as the Pride Week Committee, we filed the complaint as individual members of the committee and the Lambdaistanbul Association.
Lawyer and activist Levent Pişkin spoke on behalf of the Pride Week Committee and stated:
“We think that prosecutors, especially press prosecutors, should start an investigation on the matter on its own initiative as there is more than one type of crime. The declarations include offenses such as targeting LGBTI+s, instigating crime, discrimination, instigating the public to rage and animosity, insult and obstruction of democratic rights. The governorate’s ban against the march, using these threats as an excuse, is not only against European Court of Human Rights jurisprudence and international conventions but also national laws and the the constitution. We will file the criminal complaint and follow up. We will continue our struggle and stand up for our rights against those who target the LGBTI+s, deem them deserving of death and instigate hate.
Against the decision of the governorate, we will open a lawsuit today (June 20) at the Administrative Court with an urgent request demanding a stay in the execution of the decision of banning next week’s march. We hope that there will be a verdict to stop the execution without further ado. There are similar cases in ECtHR cases regarding Georgia and Russia. There were also threats by certain faith groups against the LGBTI+, governorate bans against marches in these cases, and police attacks against LGBTI+s, which we have also attached these cases on our complaint.”
Anyone who wishes to can sign the complaint and submit it to the prosecutor’s offices.
Last week, Istanbul LGBTI Association and Human Rights Association filed another criminal complaint against these groups.
You can find the criminal complaint below.
The video of our declaration: https://www.facebook.com/prideistanbul/videos/925479827579631/
Here is the full text of our press release on Monday, June 20:
As the 24th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee, we declare that the obstruction of the 7th Trans Pride March press statement by police using tear gas, plastic bullets and detentions will not deter LGBTI+s and that on the contrary, these will make us raise our voices.
We want to make a press statement in Taksim for the 14th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March on Sunday, June 26 and we demand that the governorate assume an attitude that respects human rights and seeks to unify society in common sense, ensuring that we issue the press release in peace and in safety, instead of deciding to attack once more.
WE FILED A CRIMINAL COMPLAINT AGAINST THE ALPERENS AND APPLIED FOR THE CANCELLATION OF GOVERNATE’S BAN
Last year the governorate tried to block the Pride March, which would have an estimated participation of 100 thousand people, with the excuse of “certain groups’ sensibilities during Ramadan” and the police intervened in the marchers on Istiklal Avenue violently, violating their rights of participants. This year, before the march on the last day of Trans Pride Week, a press statement began within the knowledge of the police. However, the police did not let the statement continue and pushed the people on Öğüt Street where the Istanbul LGBTI Association is located, to Mis Street. Police blocked Mis Street, telling the people on the street to disperse and then attacking them with tear gas and plastic bullets, taking many into custody. All of our friends who were taken to custody were released after their statements [were given].
The police also asked the members of the press to erase their footage but could not avoid being recorded on social media.
As we stated on the petition to ensure that we hold the 24th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week in safety:
- Istanbul Governorate violates the constitution and the national law.
- The right to organize meetings and marches is a part of freedom of expression, which is a basic human right that is protected by the constitution and by international conventions.
- The governorate verbal statement last year, pointing at “the sensibilities of certain groups during Ramadan” demonstrates that the purpose is not to maintain security, but to bar LGBTI+s from getting out on the streets. The duty of the Ministry of Interior and the Governorate is to protect our basic human right to freedom of expression.
We filed a criminal complaint on June 20, at 11:00 in Çağlayan Courthouse, demanding that radical groups such as Muslim Anatolian Youth, Alperen Hearths Foundation, Tembihname, Özgür-Der, be taken to court for their hate speech that targets us.
We also opened a lawsuit at the Administrative Court against the Governorate’s decision to cancel our march in Taksim.
THE ACTIVITIES WILL CONTINUE THROUGHOUT THE WEEK
The 24th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week starts today (Monday, June 20). Throughout the week, we will talk, produce, get empowered, share and raise our voices through many activities such as panels, forums, exhibitions, workshops, and parties.
We will look for the ways to be stronger physically and mentally by organizing a “Self-Defense Workshop against Homo-Transphobic Assaults”, the first of our activities on Monday, June 20. The same day we will have Conscientious Objection, Lubunca as a Method of Struggle Against Sexual Violence, University LGBTI+s Meetings . On Monday evening at 19:00, on Uftade Street in Harbiye, at Boysan’s House the annual Pride Week exhibition, “from where to where” will be opened. In the exhibition, works that commemorate our friends Boysan Yakar, Zeliş Deniz and Mert Serçe who we lost last year, including Boysan Yakar’s own work.
Many meetings, forums and panels on the theme “We Unite!” will take place through the week. See the full schedule here
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 Kültür Merkezi on Thursday, June 23.
We are everywhere, not only in one district, we want to raise our voices not only one day a year but every day. Once more we say “Get used to it, We’re here!”
Note to the editor:
For Interviews and Special Reports:
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, and locked the police inside the bar; demonstrations and clashes lasted for four days and spread to the streets. This day was a turning point for the LGBTI+ rights struggle and is celebrated with 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. The 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.