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Gay Pride in Istanbul – The LGBTT Parade Hits Taksim Square!

TURKEY | Tuesday, 21 June 2011 | Views [6040]

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Despite its increasingly liberal-minded youth and rapid adoption of western ways, issues of sexuality and gender still remain somewhat taboo within Turkey. That said, being the only Muslim country where homosexuality is not illegal, Turkey plays host to a vibrant gay scene (albeit limited to certain areas) and this, the annual LGBTT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transsexual, transgender) march is surely proof of its prominence.

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Turkey may well be on the right road but it’s clear from today’s participants that sexual and gender discrimination is still very much an issue. It’s the first day of LGBTT Pride week and partakers are still raging about the 2008 murder of Ahmet Yildiz and raising aloft signs scribbled with slogans like: ‘Murderers of Gay and Trans are: State, Religion, Society and Family’. But whilst they may be eager to remind us of their struggles, there is still a sense that they would prefer to focus on how far they have come. Certainly today, Istanbul’s Taksim square is alive with sounds of hope rather than bitterness and there’s little room for negativity or hostility amongst the ever-increasing masses of banner-weilding marchers. Flags doused in the symbolic rainbow stripes of the Pride movement flap in the wind, marching bands thump their kettle drums with spirited abandon and an enormous Pride flag is carried by the squealing crowd down Istikal Caddesi. 

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Of course, not everyone is impressed by the jovial mood and displays of sexual liberation. Onlookers display a range of expressions from quietly bemused to notably horrified but the over-whelming majority seem unable to stop themselves from being swept up into the party. A party that, of course, everyone is invited to.

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This week from the 20th till 26th June is Istanbuls 19th LGBTT Pride Week - a week of demonstrations, workshops, panels, film screenings and, of course, parties, this year centred around the theme of ‘taboo’.  

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Transexual and Transgender participants pose proudly for the cameras

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Flags & banners are raised

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Not everyone is thrilled at the display...

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...but they're all watching none-the-less

Tags: gay pride, istanbul, march, politics, protests, travel writing, travel writing scholarship, turkey

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