April 8, 2021
Students in Turkey Are Standing Up for LGBT Rights
After a newly appointed university official dissolved Bogazici University’s LGBTI+ club in January, students across the country launched a nationwide protest movement.
Tensions had been running high for weeks at Bogazici University, Turkey’s top-ranked institution of higher learning, but it was a student-organized art exhibit that brought about a police crackdown on the university’s campus.
The art exhibit, one of many events that students organized amid weeks of protests, included a poster of the Kaaba, the center of Islam’s most symbolic mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, adorned with four different LGBTI pride flags in each corner.
The piece, which was anonymously submitted, quickly circulated online after the show opened on January 22. On January 29, Turkish authorities raided the campus and arrested the four student organizers of the exhibit. “4 LGBT perverts who committed the disrespect to the Kaaba-i Muazzama were detained at Boğaziçi University!” Turkey’s Minister of the Interior Suleyman Soylu tweeted after the students’ arrests.
Then, on February 2, the university’s newly appointed rector, Melih Bulu, closed Bogazici University’s LGBTI+ studies club.