Hundreds of Turks protested in Istanbul on Sunday against homosexuals, whose meetings are banned in the country, an AFP correspondent said. The protesters gathered at the invitation of more than 100 conservative organizations, most of them close to the authority of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and demanded a ban on associations that defend LGBT rights.
The protesters, most of them veiled women, raised banners in the conservative al-Fateh neighborhood.
Turkey’s Supreme Audiovisual Media Council considered the commercial, which described the protest as “in the public interest”, drew the ire of human rights organizations. On Sunday, many Turkish networks shared a post saying “No to the hate march” in solidarity with the homosexuals targeted by the demonstration.
Homosexuality has not been banned in Turkey since the mid-19th century (1858), but it remains frowned upon by the conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. One of the ministers called homosexuals “crazy”.
The Turkish government also withdrew from the Istanbul Convention on Violence against Women last year, arguing that it promotes homosexuality and threatens traditional family structure.
After more than 100,000 people attended a large demonstration in Istanbul in 2014, Turkish authorities gradually banned the gay pride parade, citing security reasons. Since then, protesters who opposed the ban have been subjected to severe repression, including police raids and violent arrests.
Last June, more than 200 people were arrested and many of them were ill-treated.