Turkey’s LGBT crackdown

July 31, 2015

I’ve been walking in north Wales so haven’t had chance to post this piece I wrote on Turkey’s nervous LGBTIs and the “perils of visibility.” Clouds have darkened in recent weeks for LGBTIs in Turkey after last month’s police crackdown on the annual Pride March and a broader uptick in violent incidents and homophobic rhetoric.

The paradox I try to explain in the article is that this has accompanied an increasingly vocal LGBT rights activism that has flourished in the country over the past couple of decades:

“Yeşim Başaran, who works at LGBTI rights group Lambda Istanbul, agrees that a ‘conservative resistance’ has arisen in response to the campaign for recognition. ‘The two things have happened at the same time. The issue of LGBTI rights has become more visible in the media and activists have become more vocal. Opposition parties have nominated gay candidates in elections and have LGBTI people working in their party organizations. That would not have happened a few years ago,’ she says. ‘Life for LGBTIs in Turkey was never easy. They already were subject to attacks in public and within their families. They were at risk of being fired from their jobs or committing suicide. But in the last few weeks it has become more concrete.'”

Read the whole piece at Balkanist.

Istanbul's 2013 Pride March, in happier times. Source: Wikipedia Commons.

Istanbul’s 2013 Pride March, in happier times. Source: Wikipedia Commons.

It was particularly interesting to meet the pro-Erdoğan AK-LGBTI group. Many people assumed they were trolls, but I can confirm that they are serious and in the process of becoming a legally recognised “dernek” (association). Turkey is certainly full of surprises.

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