The governor of Istanbul announced on Friday that Istanbul’s Pride march, scheduled for Sunday, would be banned. This is a slight shift from last year, when it was banned an hour before the march was scheduled to begin.
The governor’s office released a statement, citing the safety of participants in its decision:
It has been understood that there are calls being made...that LGBT members are organizing a march on 19-26 June 2016 in Taksim.
The organization of a meeting and demonstration march on the mentioned dates will not be allowed by our governorate for the safety of our citizens, first and foremost the participants’, and for public order. The venues for such events have previously been announced by law. We ask our valuable Istanbul residents to not heed such calls and to help the Security Forces by following their warnings and announce it to the public with respect.
Last year, this “respectful” announcement was enforced with water cannons, tear gas, and looking at this video, probably rubber bullets:
According to BuzzFeed News, there are fears from the Turkish LGBT community that extreme right and Islamist factions are feeling empowered to do more violence to them since the shootings in Orlando’s gay night club Pulse:
“We will never, ever allow such Immorality, like this march that is called “honor” but really it is immoral, that touch the nation’s nerves, to be normalized or encouraged,” said a group linked to the ultranationalist Great Union Party (BPP).
“We will not allow this disgrace,” declared a group called Muslim Anatolian Youth, which pledged to organize a counter protest on June 19. The announcement was followed by comments including, “If there is no explosion, we will meet [LGBT marchers] in the square” and “I am looking forward to the day when your heads will be halal,” according to screen images captured by pride march organizers.
A Pride organizer named Görkem Ulumeric told BuzzFeed that there will be a meeting to discuss what they should do in the face of the ban. Istanbul’s Pride march began in 2003, with only 30 participants. The estimated turnout for this year was 100,000.
The event is the region’s largest LGBT Pride event, and a meaningful place for people to celebrate their identity in a hostile environment, during a moment where solidarity and community feels more imperative than ever.
Image via Getty.