Turkey’s transgender community held its 4th annual pride march along Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue yesterday, but the event turned into a protest in solidarity with the Gezi Park protesters and marchers were reportedly applauded by bystanders.
According to the Hurriyet Daily News, marchers chanted, ‘Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance,’ and ‘this is just the beginning, the struggle continues,’ in reference to the people in nearby Taksim Square protesting the planned demolition of Gezi Park.
The marchers also chanted, “We don’t want a transphobic state,’ and ‘Don’t keep silent, shout, there are homosexuals.’
Marchers did not have permission to march but were joined by Sezgin Tanrikuli and Binnaz Toprak, deputies from the main opposition Republican People’s Party, and Turkish TV actress Fusun Bemiral.
Toprak was responsible for proposing an inquiry into discrimination against LGBTs in Turkey which was attacked by the ruling Islamic Justice and Development Party lead by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.
The Justice and Development Party attacked the proposal as ‘defending immorality.
LGBTs have been particularly active and visible in the protest movement to keep Gezi Park which has become a rallying point for those concerned about a retreat from secularism in Turkey under Erdogan.
Some LGBTs active in the Gezi Park protest movement have complained that they are being targeted for harassment by the security forces, but the Hurriyet Daily News did not report harassment of the marchers by police.
Istanbul will host an LGBT pride march next Sunday with a march along the same route to mark the end of the city’s pride week.
Amnesty International have warned that Turkish authorities must not try to stop LGBT pride marches after the government declared they would not be tolerated.
‘Turkey’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community have struggled for years to gain acceptance of and respect for their Pride events, which have gone ahead successfully without police intervention in recent years,’ Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia director John Dalhuisen said.
‘To have this derailed now would be a serious step backwards for freedom of assembly in Turkey.’
According to Turkey’s Interior Ministry 2.5 million protesters across 79 cities have taken part in protests against the destruction of Gezi Park since May 31.