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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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Spain’s Health Minister to Abolish Gay ‘Conversion Therapy’

Promoting or carrying out conversion therapy is banned in the region of Madrid, regardless of whether the person undergoing it has consented or not. Punishments include fines of up to 45,000 euros ($51,000)

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gay conversion therapy
People protest against the decision of a Brazilian judge who approved gay conversion therapy in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Sept. 22, 2017. VOA

Spain’s health minister called on Wednesday for so-called conversion therapy to be abolished after a report that a branch of the Catholic Church had offered to “cure” gay people.

El Diario, an online newspaper, said a reporter posing as a gay man trying to change his sexuality was told to stop watching porn and masturbate less in a counselling session provided by a diocese of the Catholic Church close to the capital Madrid. Its representatives called the report “fake news.”

Minister expresses regret

But Maria Luisa Carcedo Roces, Spain’s minister for health, consumption and social welfare, expressed regret that the practice persisted, saying it was illegal and calling for it to be “completely abolished.”

“I thought that in Spain, accepting the various sexual orientations was assumed in all areas, but unfortunately we see that there are still pockets where people are told what their sexual orientation should be,” she said at a press conference.

gay conversion therapy
Promoting or carrying out conversion therapy is banned in the region of Madrid, regardless of whether the person undergoing it has consented or not. Punishments include fines of up to 45,000 euros ($51,000). Pixabay

“I regret that this is happening and that a law is being broken,” she said, according to an audio recording sent to the Thomson Reuters Foundation by the ministry press office.

Conversion therapy, which can include hypnosis and electric shocks, is based on the belief that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is a mental illness that can be cured.

Promoting or carrying out conversion therapy is banned in the region of Madrid, regardless of whether the person undergoing it has consented or not. Punishments include fines of up to 45,000 euros ($51,000).

‘Fake news’

In a statement on its website the diocese of Alcala de Henares called the report “fake news” and said that while it acknowledged the “respect and love due to all people,” it would offer help to “all those who freely request it.”

Books recommended on the Alcala diocese website include “How to prevent homosexuality: children and gender confusion.”

 

gay conversion therapy
El Diario said the therapist at the Regina Familiae counselling center had told the undercover reporter that she “could go to jail” for trying to help him become straight. Pixabay

The minister also said offering such courses to children would contravene their rights, and that if the law continued to be broken, the Department of Justice would have to decide what action to take.

El Diario said the therapist at the Regina Familiae counselling center had told the undercover reporter that she “could go to jail” for trying to help him become straight.

ALSO READ: One in Five Deaths Globally Due to Overconsumption of Sugar, Salt and Meat

Treatment outlawed

Malta, Ecuador and just over a dozen U.S. states have outlawed conversion therapy, according to the ILGA, a network of LGBT+ rights groups. Countries including Britain, New Zealand and Australia are considering bans.

A fifth of gay, lesbian and bisexual British people who have tried to change their sexuality have attempted suicide, according to a study of the controversial practice in Britain that was released in February. (VOA)