(NEW YORK)— In response to reports that local authorities in Türkiye are banning and violently cracking down on Pride Month events, PEN America issued the following statement:

“The decision by the Kadıköy District Governorship to ban events such as a Pride Month film screening and arrest attendees, and to ban a separate ‘tea and talk’ event, points to the broader effort by Turkish authorities at all levels across the country to crack down on the fundamental right of members of the LGBTQ+ community to express their identities freely and safely. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s scapegoating of the LGBTQ+ community during his reelection campaign highlights the censorship and intimidation that LGBTQ+ people increasingly face in Turkey, and the recent actions by authorities in Kadıköy, İzmir, and elsewhere in the country indicate that his rhetoric has empowered local authorities to ratchet up the pressure on community members. Authorities at all levels of government throughout Türkiye should stop cracking down on Pride Month events, and the Turkish government should end its incitement against the LGBTQ+ community,” said Justin Shilad, Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Lead for PEN America.

Local authorities in Kadıköy reportedly banned the “Tea & Talk” event which has been successfully held for several years to bring together members of the local English-speaking LGBTQ+ community. The ban follows a decision by the same local authorities to ban a screening of the film “Pride” that was scheduled June 7; police blockaded the building where the screening was to take place and detained people who attempted to watch the film. The day before, June 6, local authorities in Istanbul’s Şişli district also banned a screening of the 2016 film “Diren Ayol” about the LGBTQ+ community’s role in the 2013 Gezi Park protests.

Authorities in the coastal city of İzmir in western Türkiye also detained local university students in an attempt to stop a planned Pride Month event earlier this week, and local authorities in the Turkish city of Eskişehir issued a blanket ban on all outdoor Pride Month events for the month of June, claiming that LGBTQ+ gatherings were “against public morality.” The local crackdowns are occurring in the wake of President Erdoğan’s incitement against the LGBTQ+ community during his reelection campaign last month.

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. To learn more visit PEN.org

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057