MEPs condemn crackdown on Istanbul Pride
Despite successful pride marches for at least 13 years until 2014, Sunday’s (26 June) Pride in Istanbul was met with police violence and detentions.
The Co- and Vice-presidents of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights have written to the Ambassador ath the Permanent Representation of Turkey to the EU, demanding a full assessment why the peaceful march was violently suppressed.
Ambassador Permanent Representation of Turkey to the EU
Concerns: Crackdown on Istanbul Pride last Sunday
Brussels, 29th June 2016
We were dismayed to learn about the severe crackdown on the Istanbul Pride on Sunday 16 June 2016, following earlier police violence and suppression of Trans Pride on Sunday 9 June. Both Pride marches had been banned by the Governor of Istanbul, despite the constitutional right to freedom of assembly and Turkey’s long tradition in enabling Pride marches. Tear gas and rubber bullets were used to prevent people from taking part in the peaceful demonstrations. In this connection we also condemn the bans of Izmir Pride, which was planned for 4 June and the celebrations of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, scheduled to take place in Ankara on 22 May, which was banned quoting “certain social sensitivities.”
Pride marches are a global tradition of many decades standing, celebrating society’s diversity and openness towards LGBTI people. They are a unique, non-violent and peaceful assembly, widely accepted across Europe. Many states officially support pride marches. Whilst there may be opposition to Pride events, the march itself represents a public statement in support of equality and equal rights. Such events have a long and noble tradition across Europe. Indeed Turkey has also enabled Pride marches for over a decade.
This suppression of the freedom of assembly for LGBTI people, and their allies, is completely unacceptable and is a blatant violation of international law, to which Turkey is bound. This right was upheld several times by the European Court of Human Rights (notably in Bączkowski and others v. Poland (2007) and Alexeyev v. Russia (2010)). Further the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights protects sexual orientation from discriminatory laws and practices under its Articles 2 and 26, including when it comes to freedom of expression and assembly (Art. 19 and 21).
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has reaffirmed the importance of the right to peaceful assembly for LGBTI people. In its Recommendation on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity (CM(2010)5/Rec), Ministers agreed that “Member states should take appropriate measures to prevent restrictions on the effective enjoyment of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly resulting from the abuse of legal or administrative provisions, for example on grounds of public health, public morality and public order”.
In light of the above we urge Turkish authorities first and foremost to denounce the violent suppression of a peaceful pride march, and acknowledge that the interventions and detentions of 29 persons who have been detained in exercising their right to freedom of assembly, were contrary to human rights laws.
Furthermore, we demand to receive your full assessment as to why a peaceful march was suppressed so violently, including through use of rubber bullets and tear gas.
Lastly, we urge Turkish authorities to ensure full respect for the right to peaceful assembly of all, including LGBTI people, in line with international law and the Turkish constitution.
On behalf of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights,
Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-president
Daniele Viotti MEP, Co-president
Tanja Fajon MEP, Vice-president
Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP, Vice-president
Ian Duncan MEP, Vice-president
Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, Vice-president
Malin Björk MEP, Vice-president
Fabio Massimo Castaldo MEP, Vice-president