ISTANBUL (AP) — An anti-LGBTQ group marched in Istanbul on Sunday, demanding the closure of LGBTQ associations and a ban on their activities, in the largest such protest in Turkey.
Several thousand people joined the demonstration dubbed “The Big Family Gathering”. Kursat Mican, a spokesperson for the organizers, said they had collected more than 150,000 signatures to demand a new law from the Turkish parliament that would ban what they call LGBTQ propaganda, which they say permeates 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 act. “They should save the family, they should save the children from this filth.”
The group held banners that read, “Protecting the family is a matter of national security.”
LGBTQ parades have not been allowed in Turkey since 2015.
Ahead of Sunday’s protest, organizers released a video using footage from past LGBTQ pride marches in Turkey. The video was included in the Turkish media watchdog’s list of public service announcements.
The video and protest caused an outcry from LGBTQ organizations and other rights groups. Istanbul Pride organizers called on the governor’s office to ban the event and authorities to take down the video, arguing that both were hateful.
ILGA Europe, which works for LGBTQ equality, tweeted that it was extremely concerned about the risks of violence.
“The Turkish state must respect its constitutional obligation to protect all its citizens against hatred and violence,” he said.
Amnesty International’s office in Turkey said public service announcements listing the event violated Turkey’s principles of equality and non-discrimination.
Senior Turkish officials have called LGBTQ people “perverts” who aim to undermine traditional family values.
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