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LoveWins? Police fire tear gas to break gay pride parade in Turkey

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Image courtesy US News
Image courtesy US News

Istanbul: Turkish police on Sunday fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse thousands of people determined to have an annual Lesbian, Gay, Transexual and Bisexual pride (LGBT) march at Istanbul’s iconic Taksim square.

The square and Istiklal street, one of Istanbul’s busiest touristic streets, were decorated with rainbow colors symbolizing the LGBT community colors and was readied for the parade days before Sunday.

“We refuse to fit the ‘normal’ stereotype,” Xinhua quoted the Pride Week Committee as saying in a statement. “It is not due to nature, nor is it a disease. We are not normal! We do not accept it! We are neither wrong, nor we are alone. We refuse to accept stoic norms or what is deemed ‘normal.'”

Around 5,000 riot police and numerous water cannons were positioned in the square and neighburing streets from early morning in order to prevent the crowd from gathering in the square.

As the crowd approached the square, police fired water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas. Tourists, children and the LGBT group ran into nearby coffee shops and bars to protect themselves from the tear gas.

Parliament members from the pro Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and People’s Republican Party (CHP) attempted to negotiate with the riot police in order to convince them to allow the crowd to march. MPs formed a barricade between riot police and the crowd by holding hands. 

This year’s annual parade was considered significant after the US approved gay marriage in all its states.

“I hope the US’s decision to permit homosexual marriage in the country will set an example for Turkey. We are here to make our voices heard,” said Melih Meric, an activist.

Ninety-nine percent of Turkish citizens are Muslim, and with the conservative policies of the former ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Islamic conservatism became widespread in the country.

The crackdown by police on activists reflects the government’s official stance on homosexual culture in Turkey.

Turkey’s homosexual culture differs from that of Western countries, as is the case with Turkish culture. Turkey was influenced by both Eastern and Western civilizations since it is geographically located at the intersection between Europe and Asia.

Turkey is the only Muslim country in the world where homosexuality is not considered illegal.

There was no significant political pressure on homosexuality during the Ottoman Empire period as well. This distinguishes Turkish homosexual life from the rest of the world.

(IANS)

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UN Expert Vitit Muntarbhorn Warns Against LGBTQ Rights Violations

"More than 70 countries around the world today still criminalise same-sex relations, and in some of them the death penalty may be applied," believes Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN' first independent expert on the rights of LGBT

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A protester to support all students sign from National Center for transgender equality, Source : Wikimedia

United Nations, October 28, 2017 : Immediate action is needed to stop human rights violations based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, a UN human rights expert has said.

“It is unconscionable that people with an actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression different from a particular social norm are targeted for violence and discrimination in many parts of the world,” said Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN’ first independent expert on the rights of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people.

“LGBT people are suffering a crucible of egregious violations, including killings, rape, mutilation, torture, arbitrary detention, abduction, harassment, physical and mental assaults.

“They are subjected to lashings and forced surgical interventions, bullying from a young age, incitement to hatred and pressures leading to suicide,” he told the UN General Assembly on Friday.

“More than 70 countries around the world today still criminalise same-sex relations, and in some of them the death penalty may be applied,” Xinhua quoted Muntarbhorn as saying.

Even where there is no law criminalising consensual same-sex relations, laws on public decency, public order and social peace are used to incriminate people under the umbrella of sexual orientation, gender identity and related gender expression, he noted.

Muntarbhorn who is from Thailand said all laws criminalising same-sex relationships should be removed from the statute books, and no other legal measures should be used to target sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression for the purpose of consolidating power and suppressing dissent.

It was also imperative to remove the death penalty for all cases related to the criminalization of sexual orientation, gender identity and related gender expression, he stressed.

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“There is a need for effective anti-discrimination measures covering both the public and private spheres. Not only formal but substantive, not only de jure but also de facto, in addition to the building of a community open to understanding and respecting sexual and gender diversity,” said the expert.

To be effective, anti-discrimination frameworks should provide for effective measures to investigate alleged violations, redress for victims and accountability for alleged perpetrators, he said.

Muntarbhorn also expressed concern that human rights defenders were being increasingly targeted for their work in raising issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. (IANS)

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