Istanbul police clamp down on LGBTQIA+ film screening, detain guests

Istanbul police clamp down on LGBTQIA+ film screening, detain guests
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The screenings of the films "Pride" and "Diren Ayol" were banned by Kadikoy and Sisli district administrations, citing “potential public outrage and disruption of social cohesion.”

Several individuals who came to watch a movie about gay pride in Istanbul have been taken into custody on Wednesday as district administrations started imposing bans on Pride Month events.

The Science Aesthetics Culture Art Research Foundation (BEKSAV) Cinema Collective planned to screen the film "Pride," which tells the story of solidarity between miners and homosexuals in the United Kingdom, as part of their Pride Month activities.

However, the Kadikoy district administration banned the film screening. In response, the BEKSAV Cinema Collective issued a statement refusing to comply with the ban and called on all cinema lovers and LGBTQIA+ individuals to attend the screening despite the potential risk of an attack

"Pride Month has arrived, and with it, the bans have started knocking on our colorful doors! Tonight, the Kadıköy district administration has issued a ban on the screening of the film 'Pride,' which we announced we would watch together in the garden of BEKSAV. Our response to this decision will be to proceed with the screening. Because, seriously, who needs a ban?! Can a film be banned?” the statement said.

It continued

“We would like to inform all our viewers and friends that we call for solidarity in the face of potential intervention. As the BEKSAV Cinema Collective, we declare to the public and to everyone who wants to attend the evening screening that we will not comply with the ban. Get used to it, we're here!"

As the screening time approached, the police cordoned off the foundation's building and detained both the attendees of the film screening and the officials of the BEKSAV Cinema Collective.

BEKSAV released another statement regarding the arrests: "We defend the rainbow colors against the government's hostility towards the LGBTQIA+ community." It was later announced that those who were detained were released.

Meanwhile, the Sisli district administration also banned the screening of the documentary "Diren Ayol" by the University Feminist Collective, which was scheduled for June 6. Despite the ban, university women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community defiantly carried out the screening under the slogan "Get used to it, we're here, and we're here together!"

The Şişli district administration claimed that the documentary screening would provoke public outrage, offend national conscience and humanitarian values, and potentially disrupt social cohesion. The ban, which was imposed in all open and closed spaces within the Sisli district boundaries, was justified on the grounds of protecting rights, freedoms, and preventing crime. It was also alleged that the documentary screening might be in violation of the constitutional order.

The University Feminist Collective refused to comply with the ban and proceeded with the screening. University women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community came together, declaring, "You fear even women and LGBTQIA+ individuals coming together to watch a film. Get used to it, we're here, and we're here together!" They watched the documentary despite the ban.