Thousands of people marched in Istanbul, Turkey this weekend, demanding that the government close LGBTQ organizations, with many people holding signs that said, “Protecting the family is a national security issue.”
“People are here despite the rain for their children, for future generations,” protestor Hatice Muge told the AP. “They should save the family, they should save the children from this filth.”
Homosexuality isn’t officially banned in Turkey but remains taboo, and the country went so far as to ban Istanbul Pride in 2015, after it had been held for over a decade and attracted over 100,000 people in previous years. Four hundred people were arrested this past June for defiantly marching in Istanbul for Pride after it was banned by the governor.
But that was apparently not repressive enough for the anti-LGBTQ crowd that gathered this past Sunday in Istanbul in the event dubbed the “Big Family Gathering.” Kursat Mican, the head organizer of the event, claimed that the group had collected 150,000 signatures for a petition demanding a law to ban “LGBTQ propaganda” on Netflix and in pop culture.
Mican said that the event was “not against LGBTI+ individuals” but was meant to raise “awareness against LGBTI+ propaganda and imposition.”
“The Turkish state needs to uphold its constitutional obligation to protect all its citizens against hate and violence,” ILGA Europe said in a statement.
Ahead of the event, organizers distributed a video on social media that used footage of Pride marches in Istanbul that claimed that LGBTQ people are part of “global and imperialist lobbies who want to abolish gender, reduce the human generation, and destroy the family unit.”
While LGBTQ groups said the video was hateful and could lead to attacks on LGBTQ people, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK), which regulates radio and television in the country, voted to list the video as a public service announcement.
“Supporting a protest that marginalizes a certain group and supports hostility towards them is definitely not an acceptable attitude,” Journalists Union of Turkey chair Gokhan Durmus told VOA. “It is an outright contradiction that RTUK paves the way for an anti-LGBTQ public service announcement to be broadcast on TV channels.”