World expresses concern over detention of Boğaziçi protestors, anti-LGBT rhetoric surrounding them

The European Commission, the UN Human Rights Office, and the United States have each expressed grave concern over the detention of Boğaziçi University protestors. They have also condemned the anti-LGBT rhetoric used by Turkish officials. 

Police fired tear gas and plastic bullets on protestors in Istanbul on Feb 2.

Duvar English 

The European Commission and the UN Human Rights Office have called on Turkey to immediately release detained Boğaziçi University protestors, condemning the anti-LGBT rhetoric used by Turkish officials. 

“We call for prompt release of students & protestors arrested for participating in peaceful demonstrations, and urge the police to stop using excessive force. We condemn homophobic & transphobic comments by officials, inciting hatred & discrimination against LGBT people,” the UN Human Rights Office said in a message on its Twitter account.

The European Commission commented on the incident to Euronews Turkish service, saying it is “seriously concerned about the negative developments continuing in Turkey.”

Officials of the European Commission reportedly said that Istanbul governor's ban on demonstrations where the Boğaziçi University campus is located is “a seriously worrisome situation” and goes against the Turkish officials' discourse of planned reforms.

European Commission officials reminded Turkey that the use of excessive police power on demonstrators is against the country's obligations as a member of the European Council.

Calling for the swift release of detained protestors, the European officials slammed Turkish officials' hate speech targeting LGBT individuals. “The use of hate speech by top officials against LGBT students and the closure of an LGBT association is unacceptable during these events,” the statement said.

Turkey rapporteur of the European Parliament Nacho Sanchez Amor similarly said that he was “very worried about deteriorating situation of Boğaziçi protests.”

"Government's answer so far: police violence, mass detentions, general terrorism accusations, #LGBTI targeting... Does this reflect the new positive agenda and the will of reforms?” he asked on his Twitter account.

"Democracy is about protecting & respecting minority or dissenting opinions, not imposing a unilateral, authoritarian concept of the (alleged) general will. Repression of criticism denotes lack of democratic arguments. Prestigious #BogaziciUniversity deserves better than this!” he further noted.

As for the United States, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Feb. 3: "We are concerned by detentions of students and other demonstrators and strongly condemn the anti-LGBTQIA rhetoric surrounding the demonstrations."

For the past month, Boğaziçi University students have been demonstrating against the appointment of the new rector, Melih Bulu, who was given the post by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. They demand that Bulu resigns and a fair election is held to choose the new rector.

More than 250 people were detained in Istanbul this week and 69 others in Ankara during protests.

On Jan. 31, two students were officially arrested and two were placed under house arrest over a piece of artwork that combined LGBT symbols with an image of an Islamic site. Since then, Turkish officially having been targeting LGBT individuals, with even Erdoğan going as far as saying “there is no such thing” as LGBT.