LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Update from Istanbul Pride

March cancelled, activists and politicians dispersed and arrested.

Sunday’s (26 June) Pride March in Istanbul was cancelled after it was banned by Istanbul’s governor. German MEP Terry Reintke, 17 activists and 2 international supporters were briefly arrested and later released. The arrests happened after participants gathered in the streets of Istanbul. Police dispersed the crowd.

Co-chair of ILGA-Europe's Executive Board Brian Sheehan is in Istanbul to support Istanbul pride. “These developments in Istanbul mark yet another dark step in Turkey’s history books. Various pride events across Turkey have been banned in recent times. These are ultimate acts of oppression by the Turkish government. Fundamental freedoms in Turkey are no longer secured.”

Activists from the Istanbul Pride Week committee were prevented by the police from reading out a press statement in which they challenged these politics. They said: “We are not marching today but we just started marching [forwards]. …We are dispersing, we are stronger, bigger, and louder. They are right to be afraid of us because we are uniting, growing, and marching.”

ILGA-Europe calls on the Council of Europe, European Union and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe to step up their efforts to protect human rights and democratic values. 

“When authorities actively work to diminish the rights of minority groups, the international community must do everything in its power to support citizens. ILGA-Europe will continue to stand by the Turkish LGBTI movement. We shall strengthen our work to ensure that, one day, everyone in Turkey can enjoy full equality.” continued Sheehan.

Istanbul had seen successful pride marches for 15 years until 2014, when 50,000 people participated. The 2015 pride was met with riot police.