Once again, the Turkish government declares it’s too dangerous to be gay in public

Istanbul Gay Pride
Istanbul Gay Pride
Image: Reuters/Huseyin Aldemir
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Since 2003, Istanbul’s LGBT community has been able to hold annual pride marches with little trouble. It’s one of the largest pride marches in the region and hundreds of thousands of people attend every year.

But things took a dark turn last year, when the event was cancelled because it coincided with the holy month of Ramadan. City police fired water cannons, rubber pellets and tear gas at the people who decided to march in celebration anyway.

This year, Turkish authorities have banned the march again. The Istanbul governor’s office issued the following explanation, reported by the Daily Sabah:

It is understood from some media organizations, websites and social media that LGBT members called for a march held to take place between 19 and 26 June at Taksim.

Such a meeting and demonstration march will not be allowed to take place by our governorate, taking into account the security of our citizens, in particular the participants, as well as the public order

The June 17 edict follows last weekend’s mass shooting in a gay club in Florida, where 50 people were killed. This year’s planned march in Istanbul has also been threatened by ultra-nationalist youth group, the Alperen Hearths, who had promised to stop the event. ” Either you do what is needed or we will do it. We are ready to take any risks,” the Alperen Hearths Istanbul provincial head, Kursat Mican, warned, reports Al-Jazeera.

Istanbul’s LGBTİ+ Pride Week Commission, which organizes the march, has slammed the Governorship’s decision. It argues that authorities should find ways to deal with threats directed at the LGBT community, without limiting their right to express themselves and assemble in public. The committee has vowed to go ahead with the march despite the ban.