While Dr. Toprak and Yasemin visited the U.S., we held meetings with the Turkish Ambassador to the UN, with foreign ministry officials from 11 countries, and with State Department officials and Members of Congress.
As the two described how 90% of people surveyed in Turkey report that they donâ€™t want LGBT people as neighbors, their audiences listened rapt and asked what action they could take. â€œPrejudice does not just disappear,â€ replied Dr. Toprak. â€œWe need support for public programs, outreach, and government initiatives.â€
Remarkably, stakeholders in Turkey praised them for their LGBT rights commitment, and one of the national papers, HÃ¼rriyet, ran an in-depth interview.
On May 29, just as the demonstrations in Taksim Square broke out, partially as a result of this attention, Dr. Toprak took the parliamentary floor to again speak in favor of LGBT rights. This seemed like the impossible coming true! Weâ€™d been told that LGBT rights were buried under 8,000 â€œrealâ€ policy issues.
From that moment, it seems the impossibleâ€”good and badâ€”hasnâ€™t stopped.
In early June, as police violence escalated against peaceful protestors fighting repression and IGLHRC called upon the Government of Turkey to end the use of force, Yasemin wrote, â€œWe fear being placed in police custody. The annual Istanbul Pride march is coming. God knows what will happen.â€
Despite a month of tear gas and water cannon attacks, Turkeyâ€™s activists successfully held their annual pride celebrations. On July 23, a peaceful Trans Pride attended by 10,000 took place in Istanbul. On July 30, an unprecedented 100,000 marched undisturbed by police at the 11th Istanbul Pride. (Pictured above, Dr. Toprak and Yasemin at Pride.)
To our friends in Turkeyâ€”Dr. Toprak, Yasemin, and so many othersÂâ€”we again honor your vision and bravery as you fight for a better world, for LGBT people and all of our neighbors.