Since 1992, Pride Week Activities and Parades have been hosted and organised in Istanbul, Turkey. Yes, you read that correctly — 2017 is the 25th anniversary of Istanbul Pride Week!
It is a 25-year-long struggle for LGBTQ rights in a country people may not normally associate with a thriving LGBTQ community. Turkey is the only predominantly Muslim-populated country which has allowed Pride Week Activities and Pride Parades in the past.
However, what once seemed so promising has been put in peril. Turkey is currently under the state of emergency after a failed coup last year. The state of emergency endangers human rights; in particular, the right of assembly and rule of law — especially for LGBTQs.
LGBTQ Turkish citizens fear the Pride Parade on Istiklal Avenue will be banned due to trumped up security reasons, like in 2016. The fear is compounded by concerns that since Ramadan ends just before the Istanbul Pride Parade, the timing could be used to stoke hatred and homophobic and transphobic threats from religious fundamentalists. However, Pride organisers and Turkish LGBTQ activists are determined to not let anything stop their struggle for equal rights.
Istanbul’s Pride Week is from June 19-25, and will include panels on sexual health, art workshops, parties, parades and more. These activities are being held all over Istanbul — and the infamous 10th Annual “Genetically Modified Tomato” Awards will be one of the most popular. Every year these awards are appointed to the most homophobic and transphobic Turkish people and institutions.
LGBTQ individuals will raise their voice on Istiklal Avenue and every space possible to make their voice to be heard. LGBTQ Turks are feeling defiant: They will not let any kind of fear scare them away and they are not going to give up. Adopting a phrase that has now become well associated with LGBTQ activism — they are here, they are queer, and they are most definitely not leaving. So, Turkey, “Get Used to It!”
The organising body of Istanbul Pride Week, LGBTI+ Istanbul and voluntary working group are waiting for donations and volunteers to carry out the week-long organisation with a collective solidarity. If you’re able to help out, we urge you to visit their Indiegogo campaign!
Featured image by EvrenKalinbacak via iStockPhoto.