Istanbul Pride activists remain defiant after officials ban Pride celebrations: ‘We are not afraid’

Turkey LGBT protest pride

Istanbul Pride appears to have been brought to a screeching halt after two Turkish governor’s banned all Pride-related events for a week.

According to Ahval, both the Beyoğlu and Kadıköy district governors issued the ban on Monday (June 20), citing the Law on Demonstrations and Public Meetings to prevent all gatherings for seven days.

“We have obtained information that between 21 June 2022 (Tuesday) and 23 June 2022 (Thursday) gatherings, press releases, marches, distribution of leaflets, etc are planned to be held within the scope of the 30th ‘Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week,'” the governor’s statement said.

“All events are banned in all open and closed areas for seven days.”

This comes as a huge blow to the Turkish LGBTQ+ community, who were looking to celebrate 30 years of Pride in the region. Advocacy groups across the country have accused the government of waging a “hate campaign” against them.

The Istanbul LGBTQ+ Pride Week Committee issued a statement shortly after the announcement, saying that the decision was “illegal” and that they would use “our rights [to] make the necessary objections”.

“Today, with the start of Istanbul 30th LGBTI+ Pride Week, police inspected the venues where the events would take place, under the guise of ‘general control’,” the group said. “The law enforcement officers tried to put pressure on the venues by asking for documents such as tax plates.

“We would like to thank our entire network of lawyers and venues that have supported us. We won’t give up, we are not afraid!”

A similar situation happened in 2021 where, according to Ahval, police officers travelled to Maçka Park to prevent a picnic that was originally planned as part of the Pride Week events.

Police blocked access to the park in Şişli after the ban was put in place. One person was reportedly detained, while visitors were scanned for rainbow flags and “LGBTI visuals”.