A leading Turkish beer brand has launched a special edition bottle for LGBTQ+ Pride in defiance of bans on Pride week across the country.
LGBTQ+ Pride marches and events have routinely been banned in Turkey over the past few years. When those celebrating Pride have gone ahead with marches, they have faced arrest and the excessive use of tear gas.
Turkey’s LBGTQ+ community has also suffered several brutal homophobic and transphobic murders over the past few years.
Bomonti – a brand stocked in bars and stores nationwide in Turkey – unveiled the rainbow coloured bottle on Tuesday in a post by Harun Guven, head of branding agency Lotus Media.
The brand is one of the most popular in Turkey and is owned by Efes, a company which dominates 80 percent of the Turkish beer market.
The special edition Pride bottle will be stocked in all bars carrying Bomonti branding.
While commercialising Pride is controversial in countries such as the US or the UK, the decision to splash the colours of the rainbow over Bomonti’s usual brown glass bottle is a bold one in Turkey.
Ongoing Pride ban
An annual Pride march in the country’s largest city, Istanbul, has been banned every year since 2015.
While the first three years of the ban were blamed on Pride week coinciding with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the 2018 Istanbul Pride march did not take place during that time.
The authorities nonetheless refused to allow the march, which took place before the country lifted a two-year-long state of emergency.
Despite those bans, LGBTQ+ people and allies have consistently turned out in their hundreds for the Istanbul Pride march, although they have been faced with arrest and the excessive use of tear gas by police who blockade the main march route.
— Harun Güven (@hrn) June 25, 2019
Hundreds of people are expected to march in central Istanbul on Sunday despite the ongoing ban.
A two-year ban on LGBTQ+ events in the capital Ankara was lifted earlier this year, but a Pride march staged by university students in the city last month was violently dispersed by the police. Dozens were detained.
In mid-June, the governors of Izmir and Antalya banned Pride events in the two coastal cities.
When Pride marches are banned in Turkey, local LGBTQ+ organisations gather to read a press release in place of the march. In Izmir, 17 people were detained on Saturday during the reading of the statement.
“On the 50th year of ‘Stonewall Riot’ that inspired pride parades throughout the world, the state in Turkey once again is trying to violate the right to exist of LGBTI+ citizens,” read the statement.
Amnesty International last week called for Turkey to lift the Pride bans.
“These discriminatory decisions are part of a widening and increasingly worrying suppression of LGBTI rights in Turkey,” said Fotis Filippou, Amnesty’s Deputy Europe Director.
“These events are a vibrant celebration of love, inclusion and diversity and the authorities have no place in applying unlawful and arbitrary bans.”