GLAAD stands with Istanbul Pride, opposes violence

GLAAD joined several other LGBT advocacy groups in signing a statement in solidarity with LGBT people in Turkey who have violent opposition to planned Pride activities.

On June 17, the governor of Istanbul banned LGBT people from holding pride marches in the city due to alleged security concerns.

The LGBT community gathered on June 19 despite this ban, planning a small march to honor Trans Pride. Before the march began, organizers of Istanbul Pride read a statement declaring their right to assemble.

Police officers did not protect their citizens' right to assemble, and instead used tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets to break up the gathering.

In response to this violence and lack of support from Turkish authorities, GLAAD joined 11 other organizations to urge Turkish authorities to allow for the LGBT Pride parade on June 26 and protect those who wish to participate.

The official statement reads:

"As organizations focused on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people around the world, we are deeply concerned about recent crackdowns on LGBT pride parades in Istanbul and call upon the Turkish authorities to permit and protect those gathered for the LGBT Pride parade scheduled for Sunday June 26, 2016.

While Istanbul once had the distinction of hosting one of the few permitted Pride parades in the Muslim world, we have seen LGBT gatherings in Istanbul crushed with brutal force in recent years, including police use of tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets to disperse participants. This is entirely unacceptable and is part of a broader trend rolling back freedoms of expression overall in Turkish society.

While there have been threats made by ultranationalist groups against the parades, and while those threats do present a significant security concern, it is crucial that the authorities protect the people celebrating Pride, rather than disperse them.

In light of the recent killing of 49 LGBT people and allies in Orlando, Florida, we express our solidarity with all organizations supporting the rights of LGBT people, along with organizations promoting fundamental democratic freedoms of speech, assembly and association in Turkey and convey our hope that Turkish authorities will act to protect the rights and safety of the participants in the upcoming Pride parade this Sunday in the face of any threats."

This statement was also signed by the Human Rights Campaign, Council for Global Equality, Human Rights First, the Anti-Defamation League, Global Justice Institute (Metropolitan Community Churches), Immigration Equality, MSMGF (The Global Forum on MSM & HIV), the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, PFLAG National and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.