Thousands march in Turkey to demand ban on LGBTQ groups

ISTANBUL (AP) — An anti-LGBTQ group marched Sunday in Istanbul, demanding that LGBTQ associations be shuttered and their activities banned, in the largest demonstration of its kind in Turkey.

Several thousand people joined the demonstration dubbed “The Big Family Gathering.” Kursat Mican, a speaker for the organizers, said they had gathered more than 150,000 signatures to demand a new law from Turkey’s parliament that would ban what they called LGBTQ propaganda, which they say pervades Netflix, social media, arts and sports.

Hatice Muge, who works as a nanny, came to the gathering from Bursa province.

“People are here despite the rain for their children, for future generations,” she said, urging the Turkish government to take action. “They should save the family, they should save the children from this filth.”

The group held banners that read: “Protecting the family is a national security issue.”

LGBTQ parades have not been allowed in Turkey since 2015.

Ahead of Sunday’s demonstration, the organizers circulated a video using images from past LGBTQ Pride marches in Turkey. The video was included in the public service announcement list of Turkey’s media watchdog.

The video and the demonstration prompted an outcry from LGBTQ associations and other rights groups. The organizers of Istanbul Pride called on the governor’s office to ban the event and authorities to take down the video, arguing both were hateful.

ILGA Europe, which works for LGBTQ equality, tweeted it was extremely concerned about the risks of violence.

“The Turkish state needs to uphold its constitutional obligation to protect all its citizens against hate and violence,” it said.

Amnesty International’s Turkey office said public service announcements listing the event violated Turkey’s equality and non-discrimination principles.

Top Turkish officials have called LGBTQ people “perverts” who aim to hurt traditional family values.

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