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526 detained for attending events during Pride Month in Turkey

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A total of 526 people, including 34 minors, were detained by police at Pride Month events recently held across Turkey, local media reported on Tuesday, citing an information note released by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV).

The TİHV document, which focused on rights violations taking place during Pride Month events held between May 20 and June 26, said police intervened in seven marches, detaining 562 protestors using force and ill-treatment.

Local authorities banned all Pride Month events in Çanakkale, Eskişehir and İzmir provinces, as well as in  the Datça district of Muğla and the Beyoğlu and Kadıköy districts of İstanbul, the TİHV said, adding that events planned for Gaziantep province were also canceled after the governor released a statement on social media, calling LGBTI+ individuals “deviants” and saying Pride events “won’t be allowed” in the city.

The TİHV further said in the note that police broke up Pride marches held at İstanbul’s Boğaziçi University and Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) in Ankara this year, while a picnic scheduled to take place on the Beyazıt campus of İstanbul University as part of LGBTI Pride Week activities was canceled after it was targeted by radical Islamist groups who threatened to lynch attendees.

Police officers forced out of the way journalists who wanted to follow the Pride march in İstanbul, TİHV said, adding that journalist Bülent Kılıç was detained and put in handcuffs.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, but homophobia is widespread. After a spectacular Pride March in İstanbul drew 100,000 people in 2014, the government responded by banning future events in the city, citing security concerns.

It is common for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other politicians from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to attack LGBTI individuals and accuse them of perversion and ruining family values.

Turkey’s interior minister, Süleyman Soylu, previously had called LGBTI+ people “perverts” in a tweet regarding protests at Boğaziçi University, and two students were arrested on charges of inciting hatred and insulting religious values.

Turkey was ranked 48th among 49 countries as regards the human rights of LGBT people, according to the 2022 Rainbow Europe Map published by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)-Europe in May.

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