Pride parades have not been able to take place in Turkey since 2015 due to “public safety concerns”


On Sunday 18 September, thousands marched in an anti-LGBTQIA protest in Turkey’s capital, Istanbul. The event was so sizeable that it is estimated to be the largest of its kind in Turkey’s history, with protesters’ placards reading “protect your family and your generation”, “say no to society without gender” and “father + mother + baby = family.” It was dubbed “The Big Family Gathering.”

Those taking part argued in favour of a ban on LGBTQIA associations and activities, with Kursat Mican – the speaker representing the organisers – obtaining more than 150,000 signatures as part of a petition favouring new, anti-LGBTQIA legislation. “Protecting the family is a national security issue”, protesters argued. Under these proposed plans, LGBTQIA “propaganda” would be banned, yet Pride parades have not been allowed to take place in Turkey since 2015 on account of “public safety concerns.”

Notably, Stonewall’s Global Workplace Equality Index uses broad legal zoning to group the differing challenges faced by organisations across global operations. It classifies Turkey as a Zone 2 country, meaning that sexual acts between people of the same sex are legal but no clear, tangible national employment protections exist for LGBTQIA people. Equal marriage has not been introduced, and same-sex marriage is banned under Articles 124-144 of the Penal Code. Further, dependant visas are not available for same-sex partners of people working in the same country.

Sedef Çakmak is on the board of the Social Policy, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association and is a councillor of the Beşiktaş municipality in Istanbul. When assessing LGBTQIA rights in Turkey in conjunction with Stonewall’s research, he stated that: “The equality article in Turkey’s constitution does not include sexual orientation and gender identity, which means LGBT people can be lawfully discriminated against in a number of public spheres, including the workplace. This lack of protection makes it extremely difficult to secure positive outcomes in court cases, and is at the heart of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in Turkish society.”

“There is oppressive censorship of a range of subjects by the government, and independent media is tightly controlled. Even some forms of social media, such as Twitter and YouTube, have been temporarily blocked in recent years. In 2011, when the constitution was being re-written, television journalists were extremely reluctant to cover stories about the inclusion of LGBT protections, for fear of losing their jobs. Although there has been some positive change and objective discourse in newspapers, it’s still common to find hate speech towards LGBT people on social media.”

ILGA Europe, an organisation working towards LGBTQIA equality, expressed concerns regarding the risk of violence at Sunday’s event. “The Turkish state needs to uphold its constitutional obligation to protect all its citizens against hate and violence”, it tweeted. One attendee, as reported by AP, remarked that “people are here despite the rain for their children, for future generations. They should save the family, they should save the children from this filth.”

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