Pride in Turkey

History and news on LGBTI and Trans Prides in Turkey


Last year, the Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week was comprised of over 50 events organized with a crowded group of volunteers. This year too, Pride Week is being organized through crowdfunding and awaits everyone’s support.
Every year, the Istanbul LGBTI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex and Plus) Pride Week is organized by an independent group of volunteers responding to an annual call and modelled on an anti-hierarchical solidarity maintained each year with a new boost of energy. This year the 26. Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week will take place between June 25 – July 1, 2018.

Like previous years, this year’s Pride Week volunteers invite everyone to support the organization through crowdsourcing in order to cover the expenses. Those willing to support the Pride Week can join the campaign on the Indiegogo website and donate the amount of their choosing.

Pride Week Volunteers say “Even though we were not able to realize our walk due to the police intervention last year, we did come together in different places across the city through Pride Week activities and strengthened our struggle by coming into contact with each other. This year too, we need your support to come together and to organize our activities in spite of all the bans and of the shadow cast by these bans”.

We proudly declare the theme for 26.Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week which is to take place between June 25- July 1 in its 26th year, in spite of incessant bans and increasing pressure: Boundaries!

We call on to you to discuss, rethink, talk about and to enhance the meaning of the word “boundary”, a word which we approach within the boundaries of thinking and writing.  We make this call because we do not accept the boundaries drawn against our identities, orientations and existences. We come together, rising from the spaces we are sought to be constrained in, by those who isolate us from the public space saying “Do whatever you want, but behind closed doors”. We know how important it is to erase the boundaries put against love, pleasure and sharing; in spite of those who remain silent to harassment, rape, torture, and violence which recklessly roam the streets.

We make this call because we want society to be aware of the intersex individuals whose bodies are violated in their early ages, in an effort to make them “fit” the social norms. We stand against those who restrain us within the boundaries of the binary gender regime to protect their own power positions, we say “we are here” against those who avert their gaze from us, thinking we are “different”.   We show that countless queer gender identities and sexual orientations exist, against the boundaries that limit the number of the identities, orientations and existences. We shout out that asexuals, aromantics and many others exist.

We make this call, because we are aware of the destruction caused by the ongoing war beyond the boundaries of our country and we want to stand against the boundaries drawn by the nationalist, racist and colonialist states.  We want to talk about the invisible boundaries of racism and xenophobia that come between us and our migrant friends, who have past beyond these boundaries drawn by the states through myriad struggles. We want to render the psychological and physical problems the boundaries cause visible.  We want to share the pride we feel for our identities with migrants, ethnic minorities and all those from different nations. We shout out that on our dates and in our relationships, our boundaries apply, not those drawn by the patriarchy. We lift the boundaries set for the number of our partners and lovers.

In Istanbul we protest the Governorship of Ankara’s ban against LGBTI+ activities for an indefinite period,  and we mock their boundaries. As we have been saying for the last 25 years: We do not want the ghettos we are imprisoned in but the entire cities! To those who think they can put boundaries on our solidarity and resistance by incarcerating many trans friends like Diren who made her voice heard by her hunger strike, demanding a humane treatment in prison, we raise our voices with our hunger and our letters. We win back the pride of a dignified life.

This year in Pride Week, want to make invisible boundaries seen and to fight with all our might against these boundaries set to the advantage of those in power. We are fully confident that we can set our own boundaries against those who foster the hate speech against our lives, our bodies, our feelings, and that we will break their unbounded confidence.

What’s on Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week?

In the past Istanbul Pride Week has been organized under various themes, such as Caution! Family, Taboo, Memory, Resistance, Contact, Normal, What’s Between Us. Throughout the Pride Week, we will seek different methods of resistance and ways of building a stronger solidarity with forums, panels and film screenings focused on the subjects of  the LGBTI+ movement’s agenda.

Through the week, within the scope of public and free events, there will be panels, workshops, film screenings, theater plays, picnics and a gathering of LGBTI+ organizations from other cities. Activists, LGBTI+ organization representatives, MPs, representatives of foreign consulates as well MPs and activists from abroad will attend the events as participants and speakers.

This year as it turns 14, Genetically Modified Tomato Awards will make a public call to vote for the most LGBTI+phobic discourses.
Pride Week says “We are missing without you!” and invites you to donate for support through the link.


Istanbul Pride Week 2018 and What You Can Do to Support

As Istanbul Pride Week turns 26 this year, pride volunteers once more call for your support to organize the celebrations through June 25- July 1. Pride Week in Istanbul is organized solely by volunteer effort and crowdsourcing. On the second year of the state of emergency in Turkey and amidst bans against LGBTI+ assemblies and demonstrations, Istanbul Pride Week grows stronger and your support is ever more important for the LGBTI+ community in Turkey. Here is some information on how Pride has been celebrated in Turkey recently and what you can do to support the LGBTI+ community of Turkey.

What’s going on?

Over the last couple of years, Pride March has been taking place amidst police intervention and bans. Last year, both LGBTI+ and Trans Pride Marches in Istanbul were banned by the  governorship, followed by a governorship ban against all LGBTI+ related events in Ankara, which had led to bans in other cities.

Despite the bans and oppression, the LGBTI+ community in Turkey is very much alive and active. The associations continue their work and struggle for equality and freedom for all LGBTI+ individuals in all realms of social life. However, most of their work, including the organization of Pride Week is voluntary and requires financial support.

What is the crowdsourcing for?

The donations gathered by crowdsourcing will be used for the costs of events organized within the scope of Pride Week. These are film screenings, panels, forums and exhibitions. This year’s theme for Pride Week is “boundaries”, the theme will be the guiding concept for these events. You may see detailed information on how this budget will be spent on this link.

What else can I do to support Pride Week in Istanbul?

If you cannot make a donation or if you would like to support Pride Week in other ways, we say: Sharing is caring! You can share the crowdsourcing link on your social media accounts to help Pride volunteers reach more people and raise awareness in your own community. You can also follow the updates through Pride Week’s facebook page and our page. Keep in mind that messages of solidarity are always meaningful and empowering for volunteers and activists,  be it on twitter  or banners in your local Pride celebrations. It’s the thought that counts!

(Photo collage: Natali Arslan)

Kaos GL: “Good behavior” reduction to threat against LGBTI+ individuals

Far-right ultranationalist Alperen Hearths’ Istanbul Chair Kürşat Mican receives a judicial fine of 4,000 Turkish Liras (about 1,050 USD) due to his “good behavior” on trial where he was charged with “inciting the public to hatred and enmity” after he threatened Pride March. The Alperen Hearths are a far-right ultranationalist and Islamist youth group linked to the nationalist Great Union Party (BBP).

Source: “ ‘Good behavior’ reduction to the threat against LGBTI+ individuals” (“LGBTİ+’ları tehdide ‘iyi hal’ indirimi”),, December 14, 2017,


The third hearing of the trial of Alperen Hearths’ Istanbul Chair Kürşat Mican took place on Dec. 14 in Kartal Courthouse, 44. Court of First Instance. Mican was charged with “inciting the public to hatred and enmity, deliberately insulting a section of the public based on differences in social class, religion, sect, gender and region” after his threat against the 2016 LGBTI+ and Trans Pride March.

Mican, on trial with a demand for up to 6 years in prison, was sentenced to 4,000 Turkish Liras (about 1,050 USD) judicial fine due to his “good behavior” on the charge of insulting a section of the public based on differences of gender. Dogan news agency reported that the court decided that the fine be paid in 10 installments.

Ankara ban becomes premise for Mican

Mican defended himself at the last hearing, saying “The state should not allow these to do such things. Our state has protected every sect’s belief but the liberty demanded here is not a normal liberty.” At today’s hearing Mican pointed out the ban issued by the Ankara Governor’s Office against LGBTI+ activities as a premise.

What had happened?

Muslim Anatolia Youth, a group organizing over social media issued a call for an event called ‘ We won’t let undignified perverts walk’ against the 2016 LGBTI Pride March planned for June 26 and June 16 Trans Pride Marches.

Alperen Hearths Foundation Istanbul Chair Kürşat Mican threatened the June 26 LGBTI Pride March, using homophobic and transphobic hate speech. Alperen Hearths had gathered on Istiklal Avenue during Pride Walks as a small group and tried to provoke the crowd yet failed to block the walk. Their chair Mican stated:

“We will never allow this type of immoralities which touch upon the nerve ends of the society disguised as Pride Walks, to be normalized or encouraged. Our reaction will be clear and severe. They always do the same things on a holy month. They mock us, ignoring our values and making fun of us. Esteemed state authorities, do not let us be occupied with these. Either do what’s necessary or we will take care of it. We will take every risk, we will directly block the walk. Our state should stop this, considering our national values. Because this is not a normal liberty. This is our warning now. We let you know about what is to come beforehand, we will not be held accountable after this point.”

Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association and Human Rights Association had filed a common criminal complaint regarding the threats and demanded that Mican and other stand trial. Halkevleri had also filed a criminal complaint.

Following the reactions Mican suggested that he did not threaten the walk, saying “I’m not suggesting that we chase people around with bats in Taksim.”

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Committee calls on friends to support activists at trial

Thousands of LGBTI+ individuals and rights defenders went out to the streets for the 15th Pride March, which was planned for June 25, 2017 but banned at the last minute. For the last two years, the Istanbul Governor’s Office has cancelled the march, claiming that “it might lead to provocative actions and disrupt the public order.” Twenty-five people were taken into custody that day but all of our friends in detention were released the same evening.

However in August, an indictment was prepared by the Istanbul Office of Chief Public Prosecutor against these 25 friends. The indictment charges them with violating Law No: 2911 Article 28/1 (“participating in an unauthorized demonstration.”) Following the indictment a lawsuit was filed against the 25 rights defenders.

We would like to announce that we will be following the trial, which is to take place on Nov. 16, 2017 at Istanbul Çağlayan Courthouse 48. Asliye Ceza Mahkemesi (48. Court of First Instance). We call all defenders of LGBTI+ rights to stand with us at this trial. It is an occasion to remind everyone that our Pride Marches where we repeat our demand for equal rights and the right to live cannot be tried in court.

We will be expecting our friends’ support at Çağlayan Courthouse on Nov. 16 at 09:00.

For more detailed information and contact:

Emre Demir: 0543 595 3670


KaosGL: Trans Pride took place in Harbiye in spite of ban

The press statement for Trans Pride Walk was read in Pangaltı in Istanbul rather than Taksim Square as originally planned due to a heavy police blockade. Anti-transphobia activists marched to Harbiye.

Source: “Trans Pride Walk took place in Harbiye in spite of the ban!” (Trans Onur Yürüyüşü yasağa inat Harbiye’deydi),, July 2, 2017,


Anti-transphobia activists met today (July 2) at Pangaltı, upon the call of the Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association within the scope of Trans Pride Walk. The press statement was read in front of the Pangaltı metro station. The statement protested the last minute ban of the governor’s office and commemorated those who were murdered in Sivas Madımak Hotel on July 2, 1993.

Detentions following the march

After the statement, anti-transphobia activists walked to Harbiye following Cumhuriyet Avenue. After the walk, the police took 7 people into custody. The police did not state the reason for the arrests. The names of the detained are: Buse Kılıçkaya of Pink Life LGBTI, LGBTI+ activists Şevval Kılıç, Özgür Durmaz, Emre Aymelek, Beniz Ertürk, Umut Avcı and photographer Ömer Tevfik Erten.

The detained rights activists were taken to Feriköy Police Station and were all released after an hour long detention.

After releasing these 7 people, the police immediately detained them once more in order to “to draw up a record”.


Taksim under police blockade

Last night people were banned from assembling at Taksim square. The surrounding area was under police blockade. Gezi Park was closed, the entrance to many streets on İstiklal Avenue were blocked and police harassed people sitting in the cafes around Mis Street.

The statement was read in Taksim

The press statement for the walk was read on Öğüt Street which hosts Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association.

We ask the governor’s office!

Here is the full text of the press statement:

To the press and public,

Trans Pride Week has been banned by the governor’s office for the last two years, in spite of years of peaceful celebrations and the march not constituting any problems against public order.

The governor’s office states that “the aforementioned march’s organization will not be allowed for the safety of our citizens, first and foremost the participants, and tourists who are visiting the area, and in regards to public order.”

We ask the governor’s office;

*In the previous 8 walks which citizen’s security were threatened?

*Which tourists were ever harmed?

We are as sure about this as we are about our tranny-ness; neither the Istanbul Governor’s Office nor the office of the Prime minister can justify such an excuse…

The Governor’s office of Istanbul has gracefully added the security of the trans and anti-transphobia activists to its announcement. The Governor’s office might have forgotten; so we shall remind it!

Esteemed Governor;

You have been banning Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Walk for the last 3 years and Trans Pride Walk for 2 years. During these 3 years, nearly 100 anti-homophobia and anti-transphobia activists were injured, tens of them were detained and hundreds of citizens were subjected to police violence. Many citizens who have come to Taksim to exercise their most basic rights were put on trial in a lawless manner.

And again, highly esteemed Governor, our exercise of the constitutional rights were inhibited by the civilian fascists’ calls for jihad, murder and massacre, under the watch of the law enforcers working under you…

Is security maintained by tear-gassing the citizens?

We ask:

Is security maintained by tear-gassing, assaulting and detaining the citizens exercising their constitutional right? Is what you call security maintained by condoning the attacks of civil fascists, committing a crime according to the constitution?

We know that the governor will not answer these questions. The governor and all those who agree on the ban should know that we will never give up daring to use our constitutional right!

Transphobia and xenophobia

Today, the Middle East is struggling with wars, internal conflicts and repressive policies of the political powers. Across the border, war in Syria and Iraq shows its cruel face to trans rights. Many organizations such as ‘Army of Conquest’ and ‘Free Syria Army’, supported by the government on the grounds that they are dissidents, have perpetrated crimes against LGBTI+s systematically and massacred many of our friends in the most primitive ways possible.

Amidst all these atrocities, LGBTI+s were forced to migrate to Turkey in the hope of a new life but were once more systematically condemned to oblivion. Migrant trans individuals trying to survive against all the hardships they experience in public space are condemned to a civilian death within a system deprived of support mechanisms.

The deplorable state of the camps, the steep rents, unemployment and insecurity have become ordinary for the migrants, the hardships are double for trans individuals.

Transphobia within the society, when combined with xenophobia, leads to violence and threats become a fact of life for the migrant trans individuals residing in Turkey. Every breath we take and every moment we live have become a struggle for survival.”

We, as the trans individuals of this country, speaking different languages, hailing from diverse regions and carrying all colours of the world in their hearts, declare that we will not allow any of our trans friends to stand alone against death threats, state or civilian violence and any kind of discrimination. Despite the state rationality that prevents us from coming together and all discriminatory ideas; we the trans individuals will continue to stand together regardless of language, religion, race or colour!

We have a couple of things to say to the Governor who banned our walk for the trans individuals migrating to Turkey from Syria and all other countries!

Esteemed governor, perhaps you don’t know, let us remind you!

According to Article 34 of the Constitution ‘ Everyone has the right to organize unarmed and non-violently assemble and protest marches without need for permission.’

And according to Article 3 of the Law No. 2911, everyone has the right to protest and to march without having to be given permission.

Esteemed Governor, as citizens fighting for the protection of constitutional rights, we invite you to act according to the constitution and not to commit any crimes!

Do not forget that those who came before you and banned the walk are either in prison or dismissed from their posts. And yet we are still here! We will continue to protect our lives and our living spaces! Even if you blockade each street against our walk, we will strengthen our struggle for survival in every home, in every street and in every city.

Don’t remain silent, trans individuals exist! The borders only exist in our minds, migrant trans individuals are among us!

We will continue to defend our living spaces, get used to it, we are not leaving!

Istanbul governor’s office press statement banning Trans Pride

Source: T.C. Istanbul Valiliği, “Basın Duyurusu,” 1 July 2017,–01-07-2017

It has been understood that a call for a march called the “8th Trans Pride March” is being made by some media organizations, internet sites and marginal groups on social media for 17:00 Sunday, 2 July 2017 in Taksim Square.

Taksim Square and its vicinity where the march is being called for is not listed among meeting and demonstration areas as declared by our governorship. Furthermore, an application that’s methodologically appropriate based on the articles of Law No: 2911 has not been submitted to our governorship. Additionally, it’s also seen that there are very serious reactions against this call by different segments of society on social media platforms.

According to the conclusion of our governorship’s evaluation, the aforementioned march’s organization will not be allowed for the safety of our citizens, first and foremost the participants, and tourists who are visiting the area, and in regards to public order.

It is important that our valuable Istanbul residents do not heed to such calls and help our security forces by observing their calls and warnings.

We announce to the public with respect.



Bianet: Why did the government change its attitude towards to Pride Walk after 2015?

HDP’s İstanbul MP Garo Paylan inquired on the ban against the 15th LGBTI+ Pride Walk and the reasons for detentions during the walk, in the parliamentary question he presented to PM Yıldırım.

Source: “Why did the government change its attitude towards to Pride Walk after 2015?” (“Hükümetin Onur Yürüyüşüne Tavrı Neden 2015’ten Sonra Değişti?”),, June 28, 2017,

HDP’s Istanbul MP Garo Paylan presented a parliamentary question to Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım regarding the ban against the 15th LGBTI+ Pride Walk and the violent police intervention.

Paylan reminded [parliament] that Pride Week Committee’s notification and demand for an appointment from the governorate 20 days prior to the walk were not responded to and that the Governorate of Istanbul announced the ban one day before the walk. He stated that members of Alperen Hearths who threatened those participating the walk were released after an ID check, whereas those who came to walk were detained.

Paylan asked the questions below to PM Yıldırım:

  • What is the real reason for the governorate’s ban against LGBTI+ Pride Walk which has been continuing peacefully for years in Turkey, taking place without any judicial cases or “security threats”?

  • Why has the government changed its attitude towards the Pride Walk since 2015, as there were no bans prior to that date?

  • What is the reason for the violent intervention of law enforcement against the citizens coming to the LGBTI+ Pride Walk?

  • On what grounds were the participants of the LGBTI+ Pride Walk were detained while the members of Alperen Hearths who attacked them were released after an ID check?

  • What is the reason for the detention of the lawyers who intervened to help the citizens in custody?

  • Is there an investigation against the hate speech of law enforcement against the LGBTI+ individuals?

  • Do you think that the ban against the walk might result in an increase in hate crimes perpetrated against the LGBTI+ individuals?