Istanbul's Governor Banned Pride Following Threats

The attacks in Orlando have had an impact on Pride celebrations planned around the world. Governments and police departments have taken steps to up security and control crowds in an attempt to prevent any copycat attacks. But not in Turkey. Officials in Istanbul have banned Pride in response to warnings from nationalist groups, the worst way to respond to anti-LGBT sentiment. Celebrations were set to begin on Sunday.

The Istanbul governor's office released a statement announcing the ban Friday:

The organization of a meeting and demonstration march on the mentioned dates will not be allowed by our governorate for the safety of our citizens, first and foremost the participants’, and for public order.

The government essentially capitulated to right-wing groups that had threatened to intervene in the planned march. On Tuesday, a youth group connected to a Turkish nationalist party gave a press conference and issued a dire warning. "We will not allow degenerates to carry out their fantasies on this land," the group Alperen Hearths' Istanbul head told gathered reporters. He called the announcement a warning and are not responsible for "what will happen after this point" if the government didn't prevent the march from happening.

They were not the only group issuing warnings. A religious group made threats on social media using the word "faggot" and posting, "We are responsible to intervene into the perversion allowed by the secular republic." In response, Pride organizers petitioned the government to protect them during the march, which is in its 14th year. Last year's march drew a reported 100,000 people.

The government did not heed their request. Instead, elected officials are going to do the job of the right-wing bigots themselves. Anyone who marches in spite of the ban faces not only the wrath of these nut jobs but security forces too. For 12 years, the parade was held without incident. Last year, the government also tried to shut it down.

In 2015, police used tear gas and water cannons on LGBT marchers. Official told organizers (at the last minute) that the parade was being scrapped due to recognition of the holy month of Ramadan. The parade went on as planned until police began "attacking tens of thousands of people with pepper spray, plastic bullets, and water cannon," organizers said.

This year, the organizers say the government ban is a "flagrant violation of the constitution and the law." They have vowed to launch legal proceedings that will hopefully clear the celebration — at least in time for the Pride parade, which is not until the following Sunday, June 26. They say the event is necessary to "raise our voices against the violations experienced throughout the year and express our demands for equality, freedom and legal status."

Istanbul could look towards cities around the United States that will be celebrating Pride festivities in the coming weeks of June (Pride festivities tend to be in June to commemorate the Stonewall riots, violent protests that began on June 28 in 1969 that are considered to be the birth of the modern LGBT movement). In the wake of the Orlando massacre, Chicago's Pride celebrations, including the parade schedule for June 26, will be protected by hundreds of additional police officers.