Last month, riot police broke up a peaceful pride parade in Istanbul, Turkey, using tear gas and water cannons. In response, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) wrote a bipartisan letter, signed by 57 of his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives, expressing concern about the government's handling of the pride march. Two of the signatories were Republicans, Chris Gibson and Richard Hanna, both of New York. 

HRC supported the letter and urged Members of Congress to sign. The letter praised Turkey's previous “dedication to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.” It also explained that, “Turkey should carry out its human-rights obligations by ensuring that LGBTI individuals and non-governmental organizations are included in the process.” 

Based on these previous commitments, the Turkish government's repression of Istanbul’s pride parade was both shocking and unwarranted. As the letter explained, pride celebrations are meant to be, “peaceful-- focusing on love and solidarity and the human rights of LGBT people;” however, this event, “resulted in the hospitalization of several participants.” 

Additionally, the letter called on the Turkish government to "respect the rights of LGBT groups - and all Turkish citizens - to assemble peacefully." 

Boysan Yakar, a Turkish LGBT advocate and former HRC fellow, expressed his appreciation for the Maloney-led letters. 

“When the U.S. Congress pays such close attention, it really has an impact, and helps people who are suffering human rights abuses like we did in Istanbul,” Yakar said. “We are so grateful for the support and see the U.S. as a strong partner in helping to promote human rights everywhere.”

Along with the letter to Ambassador Kilie, members of Congress sent a similar letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him to publicly address the leaders of Turkey on the violence against the LGBT community.

Filed under: International

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