Set to take place earlier this month, the 3rd Annual “Queer Olympix” sports event was shut down by Istanbul authorities as part of a recent crackdown against pro-LGBTQI events that have been banned in the country under the increasingly oppressive conservative government.

The Queer Olympix was to include football, beach volleyball and long jump events with 130 participants registered to take part. All the planning and preparation was proceeding accordingly until during the setup of the event  in the Kadikoy district of Istanbul when police arrived with two water cannons.

Organizer Elif Kaya explained to AFP, “We were told that we did not have permission to hold our event,” she said. “The reason given is to prevent possible crimes; to protect public health, public order, and public morality.”

Kaya stated that the authorities waited until the last minute to inform them about the ban to avoid an appeal and that the ban was instituted by “the Kadikoy district governorate as a precaution against the provocations that may occur due to social sensitivities.“

While compared to other Islamic countries, Turkey is relatively more “tolerant” of LGBTQI rights, this has been eroded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s conservative government. Other LGBTQI events that have been banned include Istanbul’s gay pride march which has been banned since 2014.

By Dirk Smith