FACT CHECK: Does This Photo Show Istanbul’s Rainbow Stairway Being Demolished Because Of ‘LGBTQ Propaganda?’

Christine Sellers | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Twitter purports Istanbul’s famous rainbow stairway is being demolished because of “LGBTQ propaganda.”

Verdict: Misleading

The creator of the stairway, Huseyin Cetinel, said his motivation was “to make people smile” rather than promote activism, the New York Times reported in 2013.

Fact Check:

LGBTQ acceptance is higher than ever in the U.S., according to a recent national survey, USA Today reported. Although support for LGBTQ rights remains high in the U.S., countries such as Turkey have demanded LGBTQ bans as recently as 2022, according to The Associated Press.

The Facebook photo appears to show a rainbow staircase being destroyed as part of a protest against LGBT right. “Yes. Remove all evil LGBT propaganda,” reads a tweet with a photo of the rainbow stairway being demolished. The post has received over three million views at the time of publication.

The claim is misleading. Istanbul’s famous rainbow stairway, located in the city’s Karakoy neighborhood, was demolished for repairs in 2015, according to Turkish outlet Hurriyet Daily News. The repairs were actually part of a larger infrastructure project requested by residents and completed by the Beyoglu Municipality, Cetinel said, according to the outlet. There is no reference to the repairs being connected to the LGBTQ community in the article.

Geo-tagged posts on Google Maps indicate the project has been completed, with photos showing the colorful stairway dated as recently as March 2023. In addition, similar geo-tagged posts showing the rainbow stairway can be found on the social media platform Instagram. (RELATED: Did Joe Biden Tweet Urging Uganda To Revoke Its LGBTQ+ Ban Or Face Economic Sanctions?)

Furthermore, Cetinel, the man responsible for painting the stairway rainbow, said his motivation for doing so was “to make people smile” rather than promote activism,  The New York Times reported in 2013. Despite Cetinel’s intentions, Turks on Twitter did assume the rainbow stairway was related to protests focused on LGBTQ rights occurring in the country at the time, according to the outlet.

The photo of the colorful Turkish stairway circulated on social media on Mar. 28, just one day after a 28-year-old woman, who identified as transgender, allegedly shot and killed six people at a Christian school in the U.S.

Christine Sellers

Fact Check Reporter