Anti-LGBTQ+ hate march descends on Istanbul amid worrying calls for ‘propaganda ban’

Anti-LGBTQ+ 'hate march' reportedly held in Istanbul

Thousands took part in an anti-LGBTQ+ hate march took place in Istanbul, Turkey on Sunday (18 September).

According to the Associated Press, the march coincided with a petition signed by thousands demanding the Turkish government ban what they called “LGBTQ propaganda”.

Several thousand people reportedly joined the demonstration, holding signs that read “protecting the family is a national security issue” and calling for the closure of LGBTQ+ groups.

AP described the hateful march as the “largest demonstration of its kind in Turkey”.

ILGA-Europe, which works for LGBTQ+ equality, tweeted ahead of the march that it was worried the anti-LGBTQ+ demonstration would attract violence.

“ILGA-Europe is extremely concerned over news from Turkey that a march against LGBTI+ rights is planned in Istanbul tomorrow,” the organisation tweeted.

“The organisers have been stirring hate against LGBTI+ people and the risks of violence are very real.
“We are calling on all political parties to condemn the march, and on Turkish authorities to ensure full protection for the LGBTI+ community.

“The Turkish state needs to uphold its constitutional obligation to protect all its citizens against hate and violence.”

Protesters take part in an anti-LGBTQ+ rally in Istanbul on September 18, 2022

Protesters take part in an anti-LGBTQ+ rally in Istanbul on 18 September, 2022. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Turkey has previously banned LGBTQ+ parades, however a court lifted the ban in the capital city of Ankara in 2019. Despite homosexuality being legal in the country, Pride events have attracted violence from both anti-LGBTQ+ protesters and police alike.

The Turkish president himself, Recep Erdoğan, has been criticised in the past for calling queer people “perverts” who “poison young people”.

In June 2022, LGBTQ+ activists marking the start of Pride Month in Istanbul were met by brutal beatings and arrests from police.

Members of İstanbul LGBTİ+ Onur Haftası, which organises Istanbul Pride, had gathered to read a statement celebrating 30 years of Istanbul Pride, when police proceeded to arrest 11 LGBTQ+ campaigners, who were all later released. 

Two members of the group Trans+ Korteji were arrested and claimed police officers “tortured” activists while in custody, sharing alarming photographs of their heavily bruised wrists and legs.

After the incident, İstanbul LGBTİ+ Onur Haftası told Turkish press agency Bianet: “We LGBTIQA+ people are on the streets again. Our voices, laughter, and slogans echo in these streets. We are here with our identities, orientations, queerness, and all our existences.

“We are strong together, we continue to exist.”

Later that month, police reportedly arrested 370 people trying to attend a Pride event which had been banned by officials.