Normal?? Europe’s eyes turned to Turkey once again.

Europe’s eyes turned to Turkey once again since the pride “celebration” that took place two days ago at Taksim Square with the police attack against demonstrators.

Given that LGBT prides have been organized every year since 2003 when only 30 people attended and grew up to 100.000 people during Gezi protests in 2013; explanation to this use of force with religious background of the country and with Muslims’ holy month of Ramadan would not be sufficient. Also, again in 2013, during Ramadan, religious Muslim wing of Gezi protesters organized a huge picnic-wise dinner based on the message of sharing in which LGBT activists also attended and took big support to their famous slogan “Where are you my love? Here I am my love!” in Turkish, which had not brought any problems back then.

So what brought the ruling party AKP which was proud just before the elections of two weeks ago, to be letting LGBT prides during Ramadan towards being violently attacking people who defend their rights for being equally treated no matter what their sexual orientation is?

The answer to this question lies behind what happened before and during Gezi protests and the last election results in Turkey.

As known, AKP lost their absolute majority in the parliament for the first time after 13 years, meaning a coalition government -if an agreement takes place- or early elections.

AKP came to power in 2002 after the big economical crisis in Turkey. Defending democracy, freedom for everyone, stating that they were against any kind of coups, 33% of the voters believed them. However, huge violations of women’s rights, destructionnof secularism, oppression against any kind of opposition with corrupted law cases, changes in the constitution which damaged the independence of judicial system, non-respect to environment and intervention on lifestyles pushed people to the streets in 2013. Difference of this movement from the others was that it was led by young people and women were one of the main actors. Since this movement Gezi, closeness between different sides of the people appeared or in some cases, been more visible.

Amongst many consequences of this movement which was violently oppressed by police forces, this looks very significant: people, even who were not politically active or even who were not interested in politics learned to show solidarity with the ones who resist against the power. This was what brought religious muslims and LGBT’s together. This was what brought Turkish and Kurdish people together who realized that the government’s violence did not recognize any races but progressive thoughts and fighters for democracy.

The secret behind AKP being able to run the country alone and increasing their power was their power of dividing and polarizing people, creating an illusion of being “normal” as they seem to believe that they are. A history of government full of hate speech and implicitly supporting hate crimes has finally started to lose support. Instead of anger and hate, people discovered a new way to do politics: love and humour which AKP does not seem to have found a way to deal with.

This brings us to this year’s LGBT pride called “Normal?” in Istanbul. In recent years, mainly thanks to the honourful struggle of LGBT activists and secondly to the political parties CHP and HDP openly supporting eliminating all kinds of discrimination against LGBT people in law and in practice and who supported pride celebrations in Turkey, there has been a meaningful progress in the conception of non-LGBT people towards various sexual orientations.

Tens of thousands of people gathered two days ago at Taksim Square, traditional demonstration point and the city center of Istanbul. Just before the demonstration, the governer of Istanbul declared that the pride celebration was not permitted putting forward the reason of Ramadan.

As told before, Ramadan and religion did not make an obstacle to any LGBT demonstrations only weeks ago. Given that more and more people shared their solidarity feelings to LGBT individuals and some political parties showed more and more “courage” (even though defending human rights should not be considered as courage) recently, people who were homophobic last year started to try to understand that we are all equal and deserve to be equally treated; this growing solidarity even on such a taboo for a Muslim-majority-country seemed dangerous and hard to get polarized.

Police started to fire pepper gas bombs and plastic bullets even before the demonstration started. There were no violence to the police, even not towards any windows or doors around. The policemen used sexist and homophobic/transphobic words and strong water spray against people who were using the same materials as the previous movement Gezi: people were using humour and love to which the forces does not have any answer rather than hate. However, what remained to us again from yesterday are full of proud photos of people who are not scared of violence anymore but who honourfully stand up against it and many solidarity messages from all around the world.

Still, we have the longest road to walk together working for more representation of LGBT people in politics, for non-tolerance to hate speeches or hate crimes and for LGBT’s right to marry and have children in Turkey.

So let’s not be “Normal” and work for it!


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