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Turkey: Lift arbitrary ban and allow Istanbul Pride to take place peacefully

    June 28, 2019
    • 50 years after the Stonewall riots, thousands expected to brave tear gas and plastic bullets to defy discriminatory ban
    • Spokespeople will attend the event and are available for interview

    The Istanbul Pride march will take place on Sunday 30 June in spite of a decision by the Governorate of Istanbul to ban the celebrations. 

    "Fifty years ago today, LGBTI+ people took to the streets outside the Stonewall Inn in New York City to fight against bigotry and prejudice - and they won. On Sunday, thousands will take to the streets of Istanbul, defying an unlawful ban and possibly braving plastic bullets, teargas and police batons, to celebrate Pride,” said Sara Hall, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director.

    “By rejecting all suggested locations in the city, including designated protest areas, the authorities have exposed what really lies behind this ban. It has nothing to do with security or public order concerns; it is instead a naked attempt to erase the public collective presence of a group which, in the words of the Governorate, is deemed to be ‘societally objectionable.”  

    “There is still time for the authorities to do the right thing and ensure Istanbul’s annual celebration of love, inclusion and diversity takes place free from state harassment and intimidation for the first time since 2015.

    This year we call on the authorities to ensure that there is only joy – and not blood - on the streets this weekend.”

    Thousands of people are still expected to gather on the streets of Istanbul on Sunday, Amnesty International therefore urges the Governorate of Istanbul to urgently lift this groundless and arbitrary ban. In the past, those trying to peacefully defy Pride bans have been met with police batons, plastic bullets, water cannons and tear gas.

    For Twitter updates from the ground follow @aforgutu

    For more information or to arrange an interview contact Lucy Scholey, Amnesty International Canada (English), + 613-744-7667 ext. 236, lscholey@amnesty.ca

    This is the first Pride season since the lifting of Turkey’s state of emergency in July 2018. The Istanbul Pride had been celebrated since 2003 as a peaceful and inclusive event. However, the Istanbul Pride march has been banned by the authorities since 2015, on unlawful grounds.

    A series of negotiations with the authorities took place in early June. Amnesty has been appealing to both the Istanbul Governorate and the Minister of Interior to ensure Pride takes place in Istanbul.

    On 14 June the Governorship of Izmir banned all Pride events, followed by the governorate of Antalya the next day. In Mersin this week, Pride events were banned for 20 days.

    A Pride march organized by students at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara on 10 May 2019 was violently broken up by police.

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