LGBTI Pride March

Press Statement From the Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee:

Our LGBTI+ Pride March that we miss celebrating, that we were going to celebrate for the 15th time today, has been banned by the Istanbul Governor’s office once again.

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As the 25th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee, we notified the Governor’s office about the time and place of our march, and requested a meeting 20 days ago, however, we have not received a response to our inquiry. The Governor’s office made a statement a day before our march, preventing our right to object, and announced that they banned our march, taking away our most democratic right.

It has been long known by all that Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week is celebrated in Turkey for the last 25 years during the last week of June with a Pride March taking place on the last Sunday of June [since 2003]. Making a press statements is a right, protesting is a right, organizing, objecting and resisting are rights; they cannot be subjected to permission.

The reasons listed on the Governor’s ban statement are the very reasons why we march. Yes, the call we made, “evidently, received very serious reactions from different segments of society,” however, the true reason for the reactions towards a march that took place in peace for 12 years is hate. The lynch and threats posed by the aforementioned factions of society are not “serious reactions,” they are public-offense. The different sectors of society have reacted, yet society itself has been waiting for long to attend this march. Istanbul Governor’s office has shown that they stand by perpetrators and not society.

The Governor’s office has banned our march with the excuse to “protect the safety of the citizens, the participants in particular, along with tourists visiting the area.” Our security cannot be provided by imprisoning us behind walls, asking us to hide, preventing us from organizing and being visible, and encouraging the ones who are threatening us. Our security will be provided by showing how strong, how crowded, how brave we are. Our security will be provided by protecting the rights of all humans, without discrimination, and protecting social peace. Our security will be provided by recognizing us in the constitution, by securing justice, by equality and freedom. Our security will be provided in a country where we can have LGBTI+ Pride March.

We are not afraid, we are here, we are not going to change. You are afraid, you are going to change, you are going to get used to it. We painted this street in rainbow for 12 years, said the freedoms word, showed the beauty of living and marching together to the whole world. We are here again, this time to show we will fight darkness for our pride.

We are the ones who declared the revolution of love and gender identity. We are the ones who are excluded, ignored, and yet resilient. We are not alone, we are not wrong, and not giving up by any means. Governors, governments, states change, we stay. These threats, bans, pressures will not stops us! We miss our march, we are not giving up on our march. We are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the İstanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week, and we are proud. Be furious, you!

–25th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee

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.”

 

My Pride Story: We carry flowers in our mouths!

We carry flowers in our mouths. Flowers that you will never be able to wither.

Orkoninya’s Pride Story

I had the chance to join the pride march on June 2015 for the first time in my life. Everything was planned weeks before the march and we departed Ankara with my boyfriend at the time and two other friends.

I remember shouting suddenly while listening to Bandista’s  “Aşk Şarkısı (Love Song) in the car:

“Look at that, a rainbow!” A giant, colorful parabola was greeting us. After seeing so many rainbows on our way, we realized that love was on our side, this day was our day.

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The night we arrived in Istanbul, my excitement did not let me sleep. As thousands of people, we were going to shout, unite and paint Istiklal Avenue into the colors of the rainbow that we are. But the next day I could smell the tension in the air as we arrived on Istiklal Avenue. Hundreds of police officers were mocking us on every corner, turning their despising stares on us. Once more, it did not take them too long to target us with their barrels, filled with plastic hate. We ran away from TOMAs* spraying hatred and homophobia on us, some of our friends got hit, people were rushing about, covered in blood. We took refuge in a shop, the shutters were drawn and we started to wait. As everyone started to cough out the pepper spray, I remembered the gas chambers. We waited, we waited, we waited… I was struggling with a disease called panic attack back then. I was panting for breath, my eyes started to black out and I sat on the floor, coughing. I did not have the power to go on anyway. We went back home…

I had great dreams of this march, but it didn’t happen. I was happy anyway. There were so many of me there that day, they all filled me with hope. And the rainbow I mentioned, gave us such a salute that I realized our colors were plastic bullet-proof. As Mabel Matiz says in a song, we carry flowers in our mouths, and these are flowers that you can never wither away. We shall open our mouths for you to see, try to take a whiff. You will feel love. Love…
*Intervention Vehicle to Social Events is the infamous water cannon vehicle used by the Turkish police.

Click here for the original Turkish version of this story on our project partner KaosGL.org.

Stories grow as we share. If you want to tell your Pride story, send your maximum 500 word story to web@kaosgl.org and we’ll publish it in Turkish and English on Kaos GL and LGBTI News Turkey. Don’t forget to add your name or pseudonym!

 

 

Tell your Pride Story!

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KaosGL.org and LGBTI News Turkey have started a campaign entitled “tell your pride story!”. Send your Pride Walk story before June 3, and we will publish it in Turkish and in English. 

We all have a spring in our steps as the month of Pride arrives. May 17, International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia was full of enthusiasm. June is around the corner. Pride Walks and activities in Denizli, Mersin, Izmir and Istanbul have either started or will start soon.

As KaosGL.org and LGBTI News Turkey we joined our forces and decided to tell Pride stories in both Turkish and English. Write your Pride Walk/Week/Activity story in a maximum of 500 words and we shall publish it.

Send your story together with your name/nickname to be published and, if you like, a photo or any other visual before June 3, with the title “My Pride Story” to web@kaosgl.org and we will publish it in Turkish and English, both on KaosGL and LGBTI News Turkey.

Türkçe çağrı burada!

AKP Election Brochure Used 2014 Gay Pride during Ramadan as Example of Tolerance

In the wake of the 2015 General Elections, the Justice and Development Party [AKP or AK Party], Turkey’s ruling party, had issued an election brochure, claiming that the party line is one of tolerance of differences. The brochure had cited the peaceful 2014 Pride Parade as evidence: “Turkey is a country that can hold a Gay Pride on Istiklal Avenue even in the middle of the month of Ramadan. The increased visibility of conservative people does not carry the meaning that there is an intervention to people’s life styles.”

[Left-hand leaflet] People who are not from the AK Party [AKP- Justice and Development Party] and who are not conservative think there is an intervention to their life styles. Do you think you intervene in the life styles of people different than you? [Right-hand leaflet] AK Party has been in power for 13 years. It has solved the problems of the conservative segment, which brought it [the party] to power, only in the last 4 years after it even had to pull through the dangers of party closure. Turkey is a country that can hold a Gay Pride on Istiklal Avenue in the middle of the month of Ramadan. The increased visibility of conservative people does not carry the meaning that there is an intervention to people's life styles. Yes, now there is visibility of more people in head scarves and people who can practice their religion more comfortably because they were under pressure before. AK Party has never had and will never have the intention to intervene in anybody's life style. In the period of 13 years, there has only been a fight for the equality of wronged segments.

AKP’s 2015 General Elections Brochure.

[Left-hand leaflet]

“People who are not from the AK Party and who are not conservative believe that their life styles are being interfered with. Do you think you interfere in the life styles of people who are different than you?”

[Right-hand leaflet]

“AK Party has been in power for 13 years. Within the very first 4 years of its existence, it was able to solve the problems of the conservative segment, which brought [the party] to power, despite having to fight against threats of party closure.

“Turkey is a country that can hold a Gay Pride on Istiklal Avenue even in the middle of the month of Ramadan. The increased visibility of conservative people does not carry the meaning that there is an intervention against people’s life styles.

“Yes, now there is visibility of more people in head scarves and people who can practice their religion more comfortably because they were under pressure before.

“AK Party has never had and will never have the intention to interfere with anyone’s life style. In the period of 13 years, there has only been a fight for the equality of wronged segments.”

It is indeed true that LGBTI Pride Parades took place without incident for 12 years. The number of participants increased each year and the 2014 Pride Parade was attended by an estimated 90.000 people. However, the 13th LGBTI Pride Parade on 28 June 2015 was blocked by the governor and police used tear gas, water cannons, and plastic bullets to disperse the participants. The violence on Pride Parade came after weeks of homophobic statements by leading Justice and Development Party representatives and pro-government, conservative media.

Screenshot of a video where an armed police vehicle, TOMA, hits an LGBTI activist during the 2015 Pride Parade directly and with full force using a pressurized water cannon. Consequences can be deadly.

Screenshot from a video where an armed police vehicle, TOMA, is shown to hit an LGBTI activist during the 2015 Pride Parade directly and with full force using a pressurized water cannon. The cannon is powerful enough to permanently injure and even kill its targets. Source, with Full Video: Funda Eryiğit

Press Statement for Istanbul 2015 LGBTI Pride March

Greetings to all those who have embraced our path as their path, our struggle as their struggle!

The 2015 Istanbul LGBTI Pride March has been banned at the last minute and without prior notice by the Istanbul Governorship on account of Ramadan.

The police have attacked the participants, which was expected to be approximately 100,000 people, with pepper gas, rubber bullets and TOMAs [militarized police vehicles commonly deployed against civilian activists and protesters -Trans.].

With our self-respect at stake, we resisted. We resisted with our dances, our songs and our love!

Love will win!

We want to share with you the press statement that we would have shared if the attacks had not occurred:

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An Ugly March…

Source: Dursun Ali Bulut, “Çirkin Yürüyüş” (“An Ugly March…”), Milli Gazete, 29 June 2014, http://m.milligazete.com.tr/haber/Cirkin_Yuruyus/325704

The kinds of sexual perversion that stand opposed to human nature and are strictly banned by God as well as the efforts to legitimize these perversions are becoming more daring by the day.

Gays who have been able to form associations for years now and who receive support from various circles, especially the European Union, roamed the streets during Ramadan. The 22nd LGBTI march to be organized on the second day of Sacred Ramadan aims to throw the biggest party in Istanbul with 100 thousand participants. Members of the organizing committee say that they have been working like crazy and are moving forward very fast adding the following: “This year, our goal is to include the entire city. We have been organizing the march in Istanbul for 12 years. Twelve years ago, we only had fifty people walking or delivering the press declaration. Now, we are organizing a march that is to be attended by over 100 thousand people. We are a huge family and we cannot be stopped!

They want to enter each home

LGBTI member Görkem Ulumeriç says, “We want to enter each home and communicate with everyone and we have a lot more left to do.” Another LGBTI organization committee member Şevval Kılıç says, “We have been working like crazy. We were able to achieve our current day success by communicating with everyone around us: With Kurds, feminists, socialist, anti-militarists, and environmentalists… We wish to highlight this. When there were 20 or 30 thousand of us marching, we thought ‘Wow, it is so nice that there are so many of us this year.’ Then we saw last year that the march included 60 or 70 thousand people. There were too many of us for Istiklal Avenue to hold. And this year, we expect 100 thousand people.”

“Twelve years ago we were 50, now we are 100 thousand people”

Ulumeriç claims that the disgrace they put forth is the greatest activity in Istanbul. He adds, “They start preparing days in advance; they pick out their costumes. They share photos on social media websites and they tweet. This year, we are preparing for 100 thousand people. Istanbul is a huge city; our aim is to organize this march with a million people. This should be a festivity, like any other. You know like, when you think about what you will wear for some occasion and anticipate it with excitement, like the new years’, and when you know you will have a great time and see your friends and your loved ones…”

They spread all over the country like cancer

This disgrace that has spread all over the country like cancer continues to expand each day. LGBTI individuals state that they are active in many parts of Anatolia: “Many LGBTI persons have the courage to organize. Take for instance, Hewi LGBT, which is the Kurdish LGBTI initiative. There is an organization now in Malatya and one in Trabzon called the Purple Fish. Dersim LGBTI is newly founded; the Mersin organization became an association and the Hebun formation in Diyarbakır also became an association. There is the Kars LGBTI organization. And last year Pride Parades were organized in Izmir and in Antalya. This year, there will be one in Malatya too. Finally, the panel on local Anatolian LGBTI organizations will take place on 27 June.”