Turkish police detain 10 activists in protest against media watchdog’s support of anti-LGBTI+ rally

Turkish police detained 10 people who wanted to protest the decision of the media watchdog to broadcast a public service announcement on TV channels announcing a rally to be held by Islamic groups “against LGBTI+ propaganda.”

Duvar English

İzmir police on Sept. 12 attacked a demonstration in front of the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) regional office against the broadcast of a public service announcement for an anti-LGBTI+ rally on national channels and detained 10 people. 

The RTÜK on Sept. 6 decided to broadcast the announcement of the rally against “LGBTI+ propaganda” organized by the Islamist Istanbul Family Foundation as a public service announcement on television channels. 

After the LGBTI+ activist in Aegean İzmir province announced that they would protest the media watchdog’s decision, the governor’s office banned the protest for one day. 

The governor’s office stated, “It is possible that such activities, which involve certain attitudes and behaviors against general morality, may cause a reaction from the society and that some individuals and groups with radical views may react against the activities requested to be held.”

The police battered and detained LGBTI+ activists when they came out of the ferry terminal even before they start marching.

The activist are released later in the night.

What happened?

RTÜK’s member from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) İlhan Taşcı previously stated, “The reasoning of the foundation is (for the rally) 'If this trend (LBGTI+) is not stopped, we will not have children and young people to celebrate national children and youth days!’”

The state owned Anadolu Agency also shared the announcement. 

The LGBTI+ community is often targeted by hate speech of government officials and radical Islamists, who call them “perverted”, and the crimes committed against them go unpunished. Many LGBTI+ individuals say that the country is getting more and more difficult to live in.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has had a particularly firm stance against LGBTI+ communities since the Gezi Park protests of 2013 and the coup attempt of 2016. The annual LGBTI+ pride parade in Istanbul and other major Turkish cities has been banned since 2016, and those that have marched regardless have been met with police violence.

Islamist groups have been organizing anti-LGBTI+ “hate” rallies and marches with state support since 2022.