Istanbul Pride

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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