Multiple sources have reported that, as of Friday, June 23, plans remain in place to hold a Pride march in Istanbul on Sunday, June 25, despite a right-wing threat to disrupt it. According to the event organizer, the group has not received any communications from the government indicating the march will not be allowed to take place; since 2014, the government has blocked the annual event for purported security concerns.
This year’s Pride event comes as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began on May 27, comes to an end at sundown on Saturday, June 24, or Sunday, June 25 (depending on the moon). During this time, operations in Turkey will come to a virtual standstill as Muslims gather to pray and celebrate with family and friends in observation of Eid al-Fitr to mark the end of Ramadan. Past instances of violence directed at individuals perceived to be not adhering to religious customs during Ramadan have occurred in Istanbul, which could further aggravate tensions if the Pride march goes ahead as planned.
Turkey also remains under a state of emergency, implemented in the wake of the failed coup d’état in 2016, giving police expanded powers to detain people without due process.
Pride events were banned by Istanbul’s governor in 2015 and 2016, allegedly due to security concerns. In 2016, police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds of people who tried to hold the march despite government orders. Several people were detained.
Conservative religious citizens often take issue with the public display of homosexuality and past parades have been met with protests and clashes with police. Homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, as it is in some Muslim-majority states, but homophobia is still widespread among the more conservative portions of the population.
Those present in Istanbul should avoid all demonstrations and anticipate transportation disruptions if Pride events do occur.
Due to the prevailing threat of terrorism, report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities and maintain a high degree of vigilance, especially when visiting sites deemed particularly vulnerable to an attack (public transportation, train stations, ports, airports, public or government buildings, embassies or consulates, international organizations, schools and universities, religious sites, festivals, etc.). Some Western governments advise against travel to areas along the Syrian and Iraqi borders.