Local government bans rainbow umbrellas in southeast Turkey

The government-appointed mayor of Erciş in southeastern Van province ordered a ban on rainbow-coloured umbrellas installed on a street by local shopkeepers, BirGün newspaper reported on Thursday.

The municipal police told Art Street shopkeepers in the morning hours that the umbrellas in the colours of the LGBT flag should be removed.

The shopkeepers rejected the police order, but municipal police units removed the installation afterwards.

Turkey’s LGBT community has been under fire from the conservative government. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has called LGBT people deviants, while President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said there was “no such thing” as LGBT people in Turkey. The community has also been accused of “normalising” homosexuality by the Presidential Communications Directorate.

Being LGBT has never been illegal in Turkey’s history, however, the army renewed a provision to consider male homosexuality a crime of ‘unnatural relations’ in 2013, according to LGBT organisation Kaos GL.

A picnic organised to mark the LGBT pride week on Tuesday in Istanbul was banned by the governor, while police officers confiscated rainbow-themed artifacts, according to local media reports.

Several students are currently facing trial for carrying rainbow flags during protests in the Boğaziçi University that began in January, news website Bianet reported.

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