Australian man arrested and detained in Turkey after Pride march

Defiant marchers join banned Pride Parade in Istanbul in Turkey on June 25

An Australian man and an Iranian refugee were among dozens of people arrested in a police crackdown on Turkey’s annual Pride parade last week.

On June 25 in Istanbul, members of the LGBTQIA+ community marched peacefully through city streets.

But the government had banned the parade and in violent scenes large numbers of police arrested at least 100 people, Human Rights Watch reported.

The majority of the arrests were Turkish citizens who were later released from custody.

But authorities held the five foreign nationals, including the Australian man and an Iranian refugee, Yahoo News reported.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told Yahoo it was providing consular assistance to the Australian.

“Owing to our privacy obligations we are unable to provide further comment,” the DFAT spokesperson said.

‘Mistreatment’ in Turkish detention centre

It’s believed the foreign nationals are now awaiting deportation. But the Istanbul Pride Committee (IPC) and other advocates have reported difficulty communicating with them.

An IPC spokesperson told Yahoo that conditions inside Turkish detention centres are “really poor”.

Human rights advocates and lawyers hold grave fears for the Iranian refugee.

The man’s mother told a press conference, “They hadn’t provided them with water or food for 17 hours. They said they were mistreated.”

The Iranian refugee has international protection status. But advocates warn the man is now under risk of extradition to Iran.

There, homosexuality is illegal and the highest penalty is execution.

The IPC says the Iranian man shouldn’t be in jail and it’s not even clear if the man was there as part of the Pride parade.

President of Turkey describes queer people as ‘poison’

In Turkey, homosexuality has long been legal. Istanbul Pride has held public parades for two decades.

But after President Tayyip Erdogan’s election in 2014, the nation has cracked down on queer communities.

Erdogan was recently re-elected, and he campaigned against LGBTQIA+ rights, describing queer community as the “calamity that threatens the survival of our society”.

“LGBTI is a poison injected into the institution of the family. It is not possible for us to accept that poison,” he said.

Since 2015, the Turkish government has banned pride parades but each year queer activists in Turkish cities march anyway.

‘They risk facing tear gas and rubber bullets’

Amnesty International’s Nils Muižnieks said the homophobic rhetoric in Turkey had devastating consequences.

“By ramping up anti-LGBTI rhetoric, the government has helped whip up prejudice, emboldening anti-LGBTI groups [in Turkey], some of which have called for violence against LGBTI communities.

“Under the pretext of protecting family values, the authorities are denying LGBTI people the right to live freely.

“The authorities should allow LGBTI Pride marches in Turkey to go ahead safely and without interference.”

Muižnieks also said, “The crackdown on Pride events has nothing to do with security or public order concerns.

“[It has] everything to do with an increasingly anti-LGBTI agenda. Despite the restrictions and ever-shrinking space for LGBTI people in Turkey, and despite the potential for state harassment and intimidation, Pride events will take place.

“As thousands take to the streets in defiance, they risk facing tear gas and rubber bullets.

“Around the world, we offer them our solidarity.”

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