Urgent: Bring back the rainbow to Ankara
Imagine a large, cheerful gathering on a warm spring day. Hundreds of young people milling around the vast green space of their university campus, joyfully singing their catchy slogans – with rainbows painting splashes of colour everywhere. They are celebrating LGBTI Pride, as they have done for the last eight years.
But now students at one of Turkey’s most prestigious universities, Ankara’s Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ), have been told that they are not allowed to celebrate Pride this year on 10 May as they had planned. On 6 May the university rectorate has announced that the annual Pride march, planned to take place on 10 May on campus, will not be allowed to take place.
This decision has been made even though a court found the blanket ban on all LGBTI events in Ankara in place since 2017 to be unlawful!
"Pride for us, is the one day we can come together and express ourselves on campus as who we are. We just want to celebrate the LGBTI community like many of our peers in other countries. We are asking everyone to stand in solidarity with us and help us celebrate Pride at METU again this year." - Melike Balkan, one of the students
Last year, the university rector, Prof Mustafa Verşan Kök, had to bow to huge pressure and allow the march, having first announced that it would not be permitted. The day (see picture above) was a joyful display of pride, peaceful and colourful.
Now the students need your urgent support again. Their right to celebrate Pride cannot be taken away on a whim or by unlawful decisions of the authorities. The rector must do the right thing and let the students march in peace and celebration.
Let’s raise our voices louder than ever in solidarity with METU students and help them bring back the rainbow to their campus.