Istanbul Pride

2018 Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March Press Statement

LGBTI+ activists will be reading the following press statement from 18:00 on in every corner of Taksim, Istanbul.

The 16th Pride March has been banned by the Istanbul governor’s office for the third time [sic. fourth- pride has been banned since 2015]. The governor has once again committed a crime by discriminating against a specific part of society. Ankara governor’s ban on LGBTI+ events with no end date and the obstacles towards Pride marches in the past years show these bans are not against actions but against ways of existing. The governor’s decision is part of the existent hate and is illegitimate. This is why Pride marches are important and they should take place. We LGBTI+ are here with our pride despite all vain attempts to prevent us and we do not recognize this ban.

The governor cited the excuse of security in its decision to ban the march and in one word, this is comical. Our marches went on peacefully without being banned for 13 years. These marches increased in size and created a space for us LGBTI+s who face hate because of our existence to feel safe and make our voices heard. Instead of this peaceful march, the hate crimes the state has committed and police violence have become undeniably visible.

Like every year, we are here, on these streets. Our laughter, our exclamations, our slogans still echo in these streets.

We miss the marches attended by thousands where we celebrate our visibility. We make fun of those who try to place boundaries on us by the pride of our existence and the strength of our pride.

We call on you to also make fun of those who try to place boundaries on our identities, orientations, existences, bodies, languages, desires and everything that make us us. We grow as we transcend our own boundaries and become freer. We extend our boundless, non-gendered spaces into the streets. We stand against those who try to confine us within boundaries and force us into ghettos, those who try to push us out and change our spaces: we don’t give up on Taksim.

Now, from here: From Taksim, we greet Buse who is imprisoned in Tekirdag within the state’s transphobic law. Twenty six days ago Buse said stop to the boundaries imposed on her body and started a death fast. We shout once again that the state’s bans and legal obstacles are political and will not deter us from our fight to exist.

We are here with our enthusiasm and energy to give strength to not just us but everyone who has been bound by one man’s will in this geography. We remind all of society that without us, the struggle against the one-man regime will not succeed.

We are in Taksim, we are determined to transcend boundaries, we are not going anywhere. May our 26th Pride Week be merry and happy for all of us.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/istanbulpride/photos/a.191888724272082.41018.160223430771945/1679726622154944/?type=3&theater

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

 

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Committee statement on ban: We are marching, get used to it, we are here and we aren’t going anywhere!

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week has been organized since 1993, ending with a Pride March on Istiklal Avenue since 2002 [sic, 2003]. It has been announced via the Istanbul Governor’s Office’s website that the would-be 15th annual Pride March will not be allowed. To be able to hold demonstrations and marches is one of the most basic human rights concerning the freedom of expression and has been put under protection by both the constitution and international treaties. This ban is in violation not only of the legal precedents of the European Court of Human Rights, but also of international treaties, legislations in the domestic law and the constitution.

In the statement made by the governor’s office, it has been declared that according to the the Law No: 2911, the application for the event has not been done properly. As the Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee we have made a written application on June 5, 2017 and thus requested a meeting with the Istanbul Governor’s Office. Furthermore, with the application, the notification concerning the exact dates of the Pride Week and March and the planned location of the march to take place has been submitted.

The statement made by the governorship clearly neglects the fact that LGBTI+’s are a part of this society with their comment: “… it’s also seen that there are very serious reactions against this call by different segments of society…” Furthermore the statement also legitimizes groups or individuals who make threats and commit hate crimes by suggesting that there are “sensitivities.”

The comments that say “the safety of tourists and public order” are mere attempts to alter the perception of our peaceful march with the participation of thousands of people from different countries. We are hoping that the governorship would renounce the statement and fulfill all the responsibilities of the state including safety and security measures, and without attacking, would ensure the space needed for us to actualize our annual 15th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March on June 25 to vocalize our claims in unity, prudence and attention to human rights in a peace-loving and safety.

We would like to underline once more that we are not in a particular place in a particular city but we are everywhere and we do not want our voice to be heard just for one day but we want to speak everyday. Thus we are saying once more: “Get Used to It: We are Here and We are NOT leaving!”

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee

Istanbul governor’s office press statement banning 2017 Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride

Source: T.C. Istanbul Valiliği, “Basın Duyurusu,” 24 June 2017, http://istanbul.gov.tr/tr/guncel/haberler/basin-duyurusu-24-06-2017

It has been understood that a call for a march called “Pride March” is being made by LGBTI members on some media organizations, internet sites and social media for 17:00 Sunday, 25 June 2017 in our province’s Beyoglu district’s 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 march that is being organized will not be allowed for the safety of our citizens, first and foremost the participants, and tourists who are in the area on tour, and in regards to public order, a meeting and demonstration march will not be allowed on the mentioned day, before or after.

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.

What’s between us, for 25 years!: Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Begins!

As the saying goes, it all started with “a handful of people” and faced bans and obstacles, but as it reaches its 25th anniversary, Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week brings thousands together. This time we question “what’s between us?” In search of that “what” throughout the week, there will be many free of charge events such as panels, forums, workshops and plays.

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Organized by volunteers and held with the solidarity of all participants, 25th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week events will take place in various venues with the theme “What’s in that distance between us?” between June 19-25. The week will end with the Pride March on June 25.

Celebrated throughout the world during June with various events and marches, Pride has been celebrated in Izmir, Mersin, Antep and Kocaeli in Turkey. Istanbul Pride Week will begin with the joy of these events and marches held in these cities.

The Turkish Language Association defines “distance” as “the farness that separates two things.” But does distance only separate things, aren’t there any examples in which it brings things together? The loves that we hold on to so dearly, our hands, our touch and our longing for each other are lined up through that distance. The power that we get from sharing, standing in solitude, being together despite all seeming hopelessness and desperation stands there. Our courage to own the words used to hurt us, the greatest proof that we still stand, and our joy and laughter echoing in the most remote parts of the city are also there. There, all are our bodies; tall, short, fat, thin, in various shapes, various images, various tastes which we sometimes cannot define, sometimes transcends all the definitions there are yet which breathe, orgasm, walk, live, exist. We are that “distance,” we share that “distance.”

In that “distance” we have been subjected to the same oppressions as well. First, there is the government trying to take down our associations and, for the last two years, attacking our march. In the distance between us and the government, there is the sexist, patriarchal law which refrains from catching the murderers of Hande Kader and Ahmet Yıldız. In the distance between us and the city there is the power which incarcerates us into ghettos and which shapes the city, the gentrification which takes our homes and neighborhoods away from us; and in the distance between us and the streets there are paramilitary groups who summon an attack on our marches and are supported openly by the government and the unfair law.

On top of that, there is a giant polarization which leads the people to intolerance, ostracizing the one who is not like the majority. This culture is now so deeply rooted, so strong, so well-established that it sneaks its way even into our circles of solidarity, affects our combat spaces. What is in that distance between us that divides, separates, angers us so much?

In such an age where solidarity is essential more than ever before, we think we should discuss the things that divide us and bring us together. In spite of all the oppression that we faced, there are gorgeous things in that distance which helps us exist in this city, this country, this society. To resist the despair that we live in and the inertia that we drift into, we suggest to hold onto each other.

Happy 25th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week!

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE 25TH PRIDE WEEK:

Our solidarity causes everything in society to enter into the interests of LGBTI+s and so into the Pride Week’s. Therefore in the week often described as “colorful”, there are two panels regarding the State of Emergency, an issue that is not that colorful. And in the three-day workshop on video activism will enable us to talk and learn about different ways of resistance and solidarity.

Participants coming from different LGBTI+ organizations in 18 cities Turkey-wide will share the local dynamics of the LGBTI+ movement on the aspects of organizing and practices of combat.

The LGBTI+ movement questions not only the discrimination between people but the relationship of the humankind with other species. In light of this issue, there will be a discussion on vegan politics based on eco-feminism/animal rights and a vegan picnic to create a space for vegan politics to be discussed.

Besides all these, there will be workshops, forums, Pride Week Exhibition based on passion, bodies, LGBTI+ culture and LGBTI+ spirituality and also panels and workshops on topics less discussed such as colonialism, being in jail and asexuality.

In most evenings throughout the program there will be plays. Poetry events and mural painting also take place during the program.

PRIDE WEEK PROGRAM:

http://tr.prideistanbul.org/anasayfa

www.facebook.com/istanbulpride

PHOTOS:  https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0ByhK9vIqeMica0NSZndhc0J2V2s (We kindly request the publisher to indicate the photographers’ names.)

INTERVIEWS AND PRESS INQUIRIES: Lara Güney Özlen 0536 437 41 61

NOTE TO THE EDITOR:

LGBTI+ stands for: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Plus. Last year, Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week added the “+” to the end. Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee explains adding the “+” after the initial for Intersex in the past years due to the fact that “we say all the combinations in the rainbow exist in our movement and we aim to socialize people with the idea of not attributing a fixed identity to anyone by judging from the outside”.

About Pride Week: On June 28, 1969, gay and trans people rose against the oppression and violence that targeted them in the Stonewall Inn Bar in New York; trapped, the police came to bust the place and the protests and the conflicts spread to the streets for four days. This day, a turning point for the LGBTI+ movement, is celebrated all around the world in Pride Week. In Turkey it was first attempted to celebrate this day in 1993 as “Sexual Freedom Week”. But with a governorate ban, arrests and deportation of the foreign guests, the Pride March couldn’t happen. In the face of bans, the demands of and the support for the movement grew stronger and the first Pride March took place in 2003, ten years after the Pride Week had begun to be organized.  The march, which was participated in by only 20-30 people back then, grew incrementally. It is estimated that around 100,000 people joined the march in 2013. In 2015, the 13th Pride March was surprisingly disrupted by the police force. In the year 2016 there was similar police interference, and the interference was met both with the resistance on the streets and the reading of the press statement repeatedly all around the city. We are determined to continue the resistance because the streets are ours. The LGBTI+ movement with hope and tenacity, calls everyone to fill the streets on the June 25, 2017 for the 15th Pride March.

 

 

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee sues leader of far-right group for targeting Pride 2016

 

THIS IS OUR CALL!

On the eve of LGBTI+ and Trans Pride Marches in Istanbul on 2016, Alperen Hearths Istanbul Chair Kürşat Mican organized a press meeting and declared us to be “immoral,” threatening the marches. Mican’s statement that “We will never, ever allow such Immorality, like this march that is called “honor” but really it is immoral, that touch the nation’s nerves, to be normalized or encouraged” is deliberate hate speech directed against LGBTI+s’ struggle for honorable life and it can not be accepted. As LGBTI+s we are taking him to court!

As a result of our criminal complaint against him, Kürşat Mican will be tried on the charge of “inciting the public to hatred and animosity.” The first hearing is on Thursday, May 18, 13:30 at Kartal Courthouse 44. Court of First Instance. We are expecting all our friends to support our case at Kartal Courthouse on May 18, 13:30.

We will initiate a social media campaign with the hashtag #alışındavacıyız (#getusedtoitwesue) on May 16, 21:00, to make our voices heard and to stand by our Pride Week and our case.

We will be plaintiffs for all the injustice, pressure, and hate speech against us!

Get used to it, we are here, #alışındavacıyız!

The 25th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Wants Your Support

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week, first organized under the name of “Sexual Freedom Week,” is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. You can support the week, which is organized by a group of volunteers each year, both financially and by sending your event suggestions.

Istanbul LGBTI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Plus) Pride Week will take place between 19-25 June 2017.

In 1993, “Sexual Freedom Week” was banned by the governor’s office, the week’s events and the Pride March were not allowed, activists were detained, and international guests were deported. In the following years, Pride Week faced other prohibitions but continued to host events. Despite the bans, the movement’s demands and the social support it received grew and the first Istanbul Pride March took place in 2003, exactly 10 years after the start of Pride Week. The first march had 20-30 people and this has multiplied every year. In 2013, an estimated 100,000 people joined the march on Istiklal Avenue. In 2015 and 2016, Pride Marches were, unexpectedly, prevented by police. But the LGBTI+ movement, prepared to keep up its struggle, “dispersed” across Istiklal Avenue and throughout Istanbul for the 14th Pride March.

This year, LGBTI+ people and opponents of homophobia/biphobia/transphobia will celebrate the 25th year of being together, visibility of LGBTI+ people, and the continued struggle for rights. They will tell the story of growing from 30 people to tens of thousands, they will listen, and they will rewrite.

If you would like to support Pride Week…

This year’s Pride Week volunteer organizers are calling for everyone to rally in support of Pride Week! As in the past, Pride Week expenses are largely covered by the fundraising efforts of our supporters. Those who can provide financial support to help make Pride Week a success, please donate by visiting the Istanbul Pride Week fundraising campaign on Indiegogo.

Open call for artists to exhibit during Pride Week…

The Pride Week exhibition “Nerdeen Nereye,” which holds the belief that the personal is political, and the political is personal, will take place during the 25th Annual Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week and is calling for artwork from all fields that fit within the theme of “Geography,” both in terms of bodies and lands. Artists who would like to have their work included in the exhibition, taking place at GalleriBu from June 17th – July 8th, should send all inquiries and applications to nerdeennereye@gmail.com by May 31st.

Pride Week organization meetings continue…

Responding to the call every year, Pride Week organizers are made up of an independent group of volunteers. This body takes decisions jointly, and operates within an anti-hierarchical and anti-violence solidarity model. Those who would like to support Pride Week programming, including panels, forums, workshops, plays, film screenings etc., are invited to send in their proposals to istanbulpride@gmail.com by May 14th. For those who wish to join Pride Week as a volunteer, Pride Week meetings are held every Wednesday in Taksim.

What will happen during the Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week?

Each year the week is organized around a central theme — previously including Attention Family!, Taboo, Memory, Resistance, Interaction, Normal and last year We are organizing! The events are free of charge and open to all. This year in forums, panels, plays, and movies, we will discuss topics in the LGBTI+ agenda like health, visibility, and constitutional rights, and we will also discuss alternative ways to weave political togetherness amid the state of emergency and increasing pressures.

If you believe “if you’re not here, we’re one too few!” make your donation to support the Istanbul Pride Week at the link below.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/2017-istanbul-lgbti-pride-week-lgbt#/

For Interviews and Special News Requests: Emre Demir 0 (543) 595 36 70 / istanbulpride@gmail.com

http://tr.prideistanbul.org

Editor’s Note: The Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Commission added the “+” last year stating that “we are aiming to socialize the consciousness that all combinations of the rainbow exist and that one cannot assign an identity to anyone by looking at them from the outside.”

Istanbul Governor Bans Istanbul Trans and LGBTI+ Pride

Source: Istanbul Governor’s Website, http://istanbul.gov.tr/tr/guncel/haberler/basin-duyurusu-17062016
PRESS STATEMENT BY ISTANBUL GOVERNOR’S OFFICE

It has been understood that there are calls being made on some media organs, websites, and social media that LGBT members are organizing a march on 19-26 June 2016 in Taksim.

The organization of a meeting and demonstration march on the mentioned dates will not be allowed by our governorate for the safety of our citizens, first and foremost the participants’, and for public order. The venues for such events have previously been announced by law. We ask our valuable Istanbul residents to not heed such calls and to help the Security Forces by following their warnings and announce it to the public with respect. 

Inquiry into Policemen who Attacked the Pride Parade was not Permitted!

 

The Governorship of Istanbul has not permitted a legal inquiry to be initiated against the police who attacked the Pride Parade, injuring many people and detaining journalists.

Source: “Onur Yürüyüşü’ne Saldıran Polislere Soruşturma İzni Çıkmadı!” (“Inquiry into Policemen who Attacked the Pride Parade was not Permitted!”) KaosGL.org, 25 November 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=20603

Following the police attack of LGBTI organizations’ 2015 Pride Parade, the official complaint for trial of the officials of the General Directorate of Riot Police was finalized. The Governorship of Istanbul has not permitted inquiry into the policemen who attacked the parade.

The Governorship, stating that the Pride Parade had been “banned”, defended that the police attack that occurred throughout the day was “within the legal limits”. It further argued that there was not “any information, document, or video recording in relation to misconduct of the policemen”, despite the evidence submitted by LGBTI organizations and images shown in the media.

LGBTI organizations had filed an official complaint

LGBTI organizations had filed an official complaint, with regard to the police attack of the Pride Parade, concerning the Minister of Interior Affairs Sebahattin Ozturk, Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin, and Istanbul Police Chief Selami Altınok, who executed the unlawful order.

Kaos GL, Lambdaistanbul, SPoD LGBTI, and Red Umbrella requested that the responsible parties be tried based on the following crimes: wounding with intent, torture, persecution, mistreatment, coercion, transgression of right to use force, misconduct, issuance of unlawful order and execution thereof, prevention of exercise of freedom of speech, prevention of exercise of freedom of association and right to hold meetings and demonstration marches, and restriction of liberty.

What happened at the Pride Parade?

The police attacked the Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade with tear gas, water cannon, and plastic bullets. The protesters were detained, the journalists were assaulted. Yıldız Tar, KaosGL.org’s Editor, and Cicek Tahaoglu, Bianet’s Women and LGBTI News Editor, were among the detained and battered journalists.

Members of the Parliament from HDP and CHP stood hand in hand in opposition to the police. The rainbow flag flew in all of Beyoglu’s streets despite the police attack that went on throughout the day. The Governorship of Istanbul stated that the police “interfered” with the Pride Parade due to the possibility of “provocation”, even though there was no trouble of any kind until the police attack.

Following the Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade, as the Governorship claimed there were “no injured people”, it was discovered that many were injured after being subject to police brutality. Among the injured was Sinan Onder Duman. Duman was injured in his right eye due to the targeted shot of a plastic bullet by the police.

Even though the Governorship alleged that no one suffered any injury, LGBTI activists were attacked by unidentified assailants in civilian dress, in Tophane. One person’s nose and another’s hipbone were broken.

Sabah Newspaper: “Criminal Complaint against LGBT Banner”

The text below is a verbatim translation of an article that appeared on pro-government news site Sabah. It provides an example of religious arguments against LGBTI and Pride.

Source: Sabah, “LGBT pankartına suç duyurusu”, (“Criminal Complaint against LGBT Banner”), sabah.com.tr, 29 June 2015, http://www.sabah.com.tr/gundem/2015/06/29/lgbt-pankartina-suc-duyurusu

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They have taken action: DISRESPECTING THE HOLY TAKEN TO COURT

The banner “Ramazan cannot prevent Şaban and Recep’s love” [1], opened at the LGBT protest called ‘Pride’ [‘Honor’] march that took place yesterday in Taksim, was taken to court.

A criminal complaint was filed by Lawyer Hasan Emre Okumuş against the banner “Ramazan cannot prevent Şaban and Recep’s love” at LGBT march. Okumuş gave a statement to sabah.com.tr and said he’ll be following the issue.

The criminal complaint is in the petition below:

As it is known by the public, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) persons held the “Trans Pride March” on 28/06/2015 and opened a banner that contains insult regarding Ramazan that we are currently in. LGBTs who opened the banner “Ramazan cannot prevent Şaban and Recep’s love” for pride march have insulted the most holy value that Muslims have and have integrated the most holy month with homosexuality.

As it is known, our society is composed in majority of citizens who belong to the Religion of Islam. In such a society, insulting the Islamic Religion’s holy values, making fun of holy months and integrating it with homosexuality banned by Islam, would be an act that would create hatred and enmity towards people who are not of the Islamic Religion or who do not hold religious sensitivities and especially towards LGBTIs who joined the march. Furthermore, even if society’s majority did not belong to the Islamic religion, insult and integrating any religion’s values deemed holy with values that are banned would constitute a situation against freedom of belief and respecting beliefs and would constitute a defamation and insult against the members of that religion. This is a situation that is suitable for spoiling public peace. [2]

As a Muslim who is a member of the Islamic Religion, I also have been affected by the suspects’ act, have felt anguish and sadness when the three months that the Islamic Religion deems holy, which I believe to be blessed, were made fun of and on top of it all, the acts took place in the blessed days of the Month of Qur’an, and have felt feelings of rage and temper towards the persons who committed that vile act.

Due to these reasons, I am forced to file a complaint against the suspects for their vile acts.

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They made fun of the three months: DISRESPECTING THE HOLY AT LGBT MARCH

[1] Ramazan or Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islamic belief. Rejep or Rajab is the seventh month of the Islamic calendar and is regarded as one of the four sacred months in Islam in which battles are prohibited. The month is also a prelude to the month of Ramadan, which follows after the intervening month of Şaban or Sha’aban. Ramazan, Recep, and Şaban are popular male names in Turkey.

[2] In Turkey, the rhetorics of “producing enmity and anger” and “insulting religion” are historically used both in advocating for mass violence and in legitimizing violence in courts after the fact. As such, it is prudent to read this paragraph, along with the newspaper’s choice of words (mobilization) as implicit threats of violence against LGBTIs in Turkey. -Trans.

Istanbul LGBTI Pride Week Committee Press Statement

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FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLIC AND MEDIA RELEASE

The Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade has been held for thirteen years. Yet this year the Istanbul Governor’s Office blocked the parade, citing the fact that it coincided with Ramadan. The use of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, as an excuse to curtail the freedoms of assembly, demonstration, and speech is a clear violation of rule of law. In taking this illegal decision, the Governor’s Office has thus broken the law.

In applying the governor’s illegal order, law enforcement officials, too, became accomplices in a crime. They attacked tens of thousands of people with tear gas, riot-control vehicles, and plastic bullets, even though those people had come to assemble peacefully, just as they had last year. Law enforcement officials violated their legal obligations by carrying out the unconstitutional and illegal order handed down by the Istanbul governor’s office. Indeed, on the day of the attack, many police officers lacked helmets and registration numbers that would have helped identify them.

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Moreover, the decision to block the parade because of Ramadan artificially inflames tensions by presenting LGBTI status and Muslim faith as if they were supposedly two opposing identities. It purposefully ignores the fact that LGBTI individuals can come from all walks of life and aims to demonize them in the eyes of the wider public, preparing the ground for future attacks against LGBTI individuals. The government and the governor’s office will thus be held directly responsible for any attacks against LGBTI individuals that may be committed from this point on.

In a statement following the events, the Istanbul Governor’s Office stated that it had not received any notification about the parade and also that it had felt that certain groups were going to react violently to the parade.

First, if there was indeed credible information that an outside attack was to occur, it is the duty of the governor and of law enforcement to take measures to prevent such an attack, not to themselves attack the group exercising its right to assemble.

Second, Law No. 2911 on Meetings and Demonstration Marches, as well as the relevant article of the constitution, are both entirely clear: Such assemblies are not subject to the prior permission of the governor’s office, nor is there even any obligation to notify the authorities. The 13th annual LGBTI Pride Parade planned for Sunday, 28 June in Taksim Square, was thus not in violation of any law. Moreover, after the parade itself was blocked, law enforcement continued to attack people gathered on the streets for hours. The streets and venues where the Pride Party was being held were attacked by police using gas canisters and plastic bullets long into the night. Such behavior on the part of the police goes beyond merely preventing an “unannounced” parade: It shows that this was an attack on our identities and our very existence.

Hundreds of people who came to participate in the parade were affected or harmed by the attacks, some with injuries serious enough to warrant hospital reports. We would like to take this opportunity to wish a speedy recovery to all of our friends and supporters who were victims of police violence on Sunday. For years, the state purposely ignored systematic violence being inflicted on LGBTI individuals and even reduced the punishments faced by perpetrators; now it is the state itself that has directly and physically attacked the existence of LGBTI individuals in Turkey.

Furthermore, we fail to understand how the same government that assured the United Nations on Friday (26 June) that it would protect LGBTI rights could on Sunday (28 June) go and attack the 13th annual Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade without providing a legal justification. At the UN meeting on Friday [for the Universal Periodic Review], Turkey approved Norway’s proposal that “Turkey should carry out its human-rights obligations by ensuring that LGBTI individuals and non-governmental organizations are included in the process.” It also declared that it would carry out all proposals approved within the framework of the United Nations. A mere two days later, however, the government acted in violation of these proposals.

We repeat: We were here before, we are here now, and we will always be here!

Turkey has held an LGBTI Pride Parade for thirteen years. It is just one of the many activities of Istanbul LGBTI Pride Week in late June, which has been held for 23 years to mark the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots. It will continue to take place next year and every year thereafter. We will persist in our struggle for existence regardless of the government in power. We will continue to resist all forms of oppression, as we have for years.

We’re here to stay, so get used to it!

At 12:30 on Thursday, 2 July, we will file an official criminal complaint at the Çağlayan Courthouse in Istanbul against Interior Minister Sebahattin Öztürk, Istanbul Governor Vasip Şahin, and Istanbul Police Chief Selami Altınok for their role in ordering the attacks on the 13th Annual Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade. We call on all political parties, labor unions, the democratically minded Turkish public, and international non-governmental organizations to come and express their solidarity with our cause.

Istanbul LGBTI Pride Week Committee

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Boston Gay Men’s Chorus: “We are not worried, we are excited”

First their concert at Zorlu Center was cancelled. When the concert was moved to Bosphorus University, another university’s chancellor reacted on social media.

Source: Şafak Timur, “Boston Gay Korosu’nun Türkiye Konseri: “Endişeli değil, coşkuluyuz”, (“Boston Gay Men’s Chorus: “We are not worried, we are excited”,”) BBC Türkçe, 23 June 2015, http://www.bbc.com/turkce/haberler/2015/06/150623_boston_gay_erkekler_korosu

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The Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, which has been performing for 33 years in the USA, says they are not worried about the reactions to their first-ever concert in a Muslim majority country. On the contrary, they are excited to be coming to Turkey.

Reuben Reynolds, the music director of the chorus for 18 years, laughs when I ask him “Are you and the chorus members worried?” and says, “We talked a lot about this. We have no worries, we are filled with excitement to be there.”

The chain reaction in the media began when Yeni Akit published a news article [“Pervert Chorus Coming to Turkey!”] last month. Zorlu had not cancelled the concert yet.

After Zorlu Center cancelled the concert, Yeni Akit and Yeni Şafak claimed that the concert was cancelled by Zorlu Holding’s Chairman of the Board Ahmet Nazif Zorlu.

Reynolds says they were informed of the cancellation but were not provided a reason.

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