Erdogan’s Pride

On Saturday, the Pride parade in Stockholm, our neighboring macronational capital, was a star-studded event with many celebrities in attendance. Most of the political party leaders were also present, along with a puppet that represented the Turkish President Erdogan. This puppet caused controversy in Ankara last spring.

Turkey has observed that the Erdogan doll has resurfaced in the parade, holding a pride flag. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned the display of “terrorist symbols” (likely referring to the PKK and YPG flags also present) and the “assault on President Erdogan” on the same day.

But it is not only Turkey that opposes the Erdogan puppet. Stockholm Pride themselves have also spoken out, saying that “the message these people tried to convey at the parade does not belong to Stockholm Pride.” It isn’t easy to understand the logic of this. Protesting against Erdogan’s repression of LGBTQ people is almost as apparent as protesting against Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Turkey has long faced challenges surrounding LGBT rights, but the situation has worsened under Erdogan’s leadership. Pride parades have been consistently denied permits since 2015. During the recent election, the president stirred up negative sentiments by accusing the opposition of being influenced by the LGBTQ movement. In contrast, he claimed that his party was “opposed to LGBTQ.”

It’s odd to brush off criticism of the Turkish government as irrelevant to the Pride movement. Stockholm Pride probably doesn’t want to get caught up in the NATO debate. Still, Erdogan’s treatment of LGBTQ individuals is a valid reason to call out Sweden’s cozy relationship with Turkey. The parade featured demonstrations against Iran, Russia, and Belarus, but those weren’t met with any objections.

At the forefront of the Pride march were individuals marching for those who could not do so because of different forms of oppression. They marched with their mouths taped shut to symbolize the forced silence. It is essential to have a visible protest against those who silence the LGBTQ community in every Pride parade, including Erdogan and his pseudo-democracy.

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