Turkish court says participating in Pride parade is not a crime

Turkish court says participating in Pride parade is not a crime
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An Istanbul court acquitted 19 defendants saying that their actions did not constitute a crime

A Turkish court on Friday has acquitted all 19 defendants charged for participating in an LGBTQIA+ Pride parade in Istanbul in June 2021 that was banned by local authorities.

The court ruled that their actions did not constitute a crime, ANKA news agency reported.

On June 26, 2021, Istanbul police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd that gathered to take part in a Pride parade in Beyoglu district and detained 19 people.

The detainees were later charged for "opposing the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations", with a prison sentence of up to 3 years each.

Homosexuality has never been criminalised under modern Turkey, but country’s Islamist government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Erdogan banned several LGBTQIA+ events since mid-2010s.

Erdogan last year pulled Turkey out of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, after pro-government conservative and Islamist groups argued that it undermined Turkish family values and promoted homosexuality.

While speaking during a provincial congress for his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) last year, Erdogan dismissed the existence of the LGBTQIA+ community, claiming that “There is no such thing as LGBT”.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, another top politician in Ankara also labelled the community of being “deviants” after they played an important role in demonstrations against Erdogan’s appointing an AKP loyalist as the rector of Bogazici University.