LGBT rights activists and demonstrators were joined by Gezi Park protestors in an unprecedented show of unity and solidarity at Istanbul’s gay pride.
KAOS GL, Turkey’s main LGBT rights organization, estimated tens of thousands joined pride from previous protests against the demolition of Istanbul’s Gezi Park, which turned into a nation wide pro-democracy movement.
The peaceful and festive participants were reported to have been stopped yesterday (30 June) by Turkish riot police from entering Taksim Square, which became the focal point over the last weeks for the peaceful demonstrations.
The parade marched through Istanbul’s İstiklal Avenue, with participants carrying a giant rainbow flag, and in an unprecedented show of unity, held banners demanding justice, and LGBT rights in Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian and Arabic (representing mostly the Alawite communities in Turkey).
Some banners criticizing former Family Minister Aliye Kavaf for saying homosexuality was like a disesase. Other banners highlighted the murder of a gay teen by his father, that sent a shockwave throughout Turkey.
Another banner read ‘I asked Zeki Müren, who told me to resist,’ in memory of the legendary and flamboyant crossdressing Turkish singer who became famous during the 1950s, according to the daily Hürriyet.
The organizers of Istanbul pride, now in its 21st year, say the event highlighted the fact that ‘in a society where we are deemed sick, deviant, immoral and the culprit by the state authorities, we have formed a voice demanding resistance.’
Ömer Akpınar, spokesperson for KAOS GL told Gay Star News that ‘social media comments indicate the most popular slogan of participants was: "Where are you, my dear? Here I am, darling!”
‘The language used in the banners and slogans was really subversive when you think of the very militarist culture of Turkey.
‘This year "hormoned tomatoes awards" were given to public figures who were particularly homophobic and transphobic.
‘Family groups were also there to give support to their LGBT kids, and for the first time, LGBT pride parades were organized in Izmir and Antalya, yesterday.’
Deputies from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), including Binnaz Toprak, who recently proposed a parliamentary inquiry into discrimination of the LGBT community, as well as Şafak Pavey, Melda Onur and Hüseyin Aygün participated in the event.
German Greens co-chair Claudia Roth was also among the participants.
LGBT rights groups have previously participated in the protests against the demolition of Istanbul’s Gezi Park, which spread across the country throughout June, demanding change to the increasingly authoritarian rule by Turkey’s islamist Freedom and Justice party (AKP).
See photos of Istanbul Pride by KAOS GL:
Watch a short video here: