LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Istanbul Pride 2015: historic for all the wrong reasons

For the first time in 12 years, Istanbul’s Pride parade was disrupted by the police on Sunday (28 June 2015) as they fired water cannons and rubber bullets at those who had peacefully gathered to celebrate diversity. 

The authorities had also banned the parade at the last minute. ILGA-Europe strongly condemn the actions of the police and view their actions as a severe infringement on the right to freedom of assembly in Turkey.

This disproportionate incident is an indication of the blatant disregard the current Turkish government has for the LGBTI community and civil society in general. At ILGA-Europe, we continuously monitor the situation on the ground, thanks to information supplied by our national member organisations. For some time, it has been apparent that Turkish LGBTI activists are working in a hostile environment. The space in which civil society is allowed to operate is clearly shrinking; a sign that worries ILGA-Europe immensely.

What makes Saturday’s events even more disturbing is the fact that freedom of assembly had previously been guaranteed and respected by the Turkish authorities. Homophobic and transphobic violence has marred the lives of LGBTI people in Turkey for years; the government’s respect for the right to assemble had been the one positive point amid their general inactivity on LGBTI issues. Police protection had been given to all previous marches, beginning with the first Istanbul Pride in 2003. Only days previously, the Trans Pride march took place without any incident. The break-up of the 2015 Pride parade is an erosion of a fundamental human right.

"We have received reports that several marchers were severely injured and we hope that they make a full and speedy recovery. ILGA-Europe condemn this unprovoked violation of the right to freedom of assembly by the Turkish government and the police. It is highly regrettable that, while political support for LGBTI fundamental rights is growing amongst the opposition, the government is lashing out against peaceful marchers.” commented Evelyne Paradis, ILGA-Europe’s Executive Director.

 “As a result of Saturday’s events, we have updated our Rainbow Europe Index to reflect the obstruction of public events. Sadly, we see that Turkey now occupy 47th place out of the 49 European countries included in our Index. This ranking does a great disservice to the Turkish LGBTI activists and their allies who went onto the streets of Istanbul last weekend intending to celebrate.”