Turkish police use tear gas to prevent LGBT pride march in Istanbul

Bruno Cirelli
Giugno 26, 2017

Turkish police have thwarted an attempt by LGBT activists to hold a pride march in İstanbul's famed Taksim square to mark one of the largest organized gay festivals in Turkey.

The organizing committee for LGBTI pride week reacted to the decision of the Istanbul Governor's Office, saying banning the march contravenes global conventions, Turkish law and the constitution.

Istanbul's governor has banned a gay and transgender pride march which was due to take place in the city on Sunday, citing security concerns after threats from an ultra-nationalist group.

The police officers also barred people from entering Istiklal Avenue and turned back all those thought to be linked to the banned event.

At least a hundred protesters gathered in the nearby Cihangir neighbourhood, beating drums and chanting slogans: "Don't be quiet, shout out, gays exist!".

Police fired rubber bullets to disperse one group, witnesses said, and detained several people.

Police barricades, riot-control vehicles and buses were dispatched to the area Sunday afternoon and a helicopter buzzed overhead.

In a statement, he said: 'There are very serious reactions against this call by different segments of society [and] on social media platforms.

According to Turkish daily Hurriyet, 10 people were detained, mainly after scuffles broke out between the Pride marchers and counter-demonstrators.

'Wherever they march, we'll also go.

"We are not alone, we are not wrong, we have not given up", the Pride Committee's statement said Sunday.

City officials claim there has been no official application for this year's march, but organizer Lara Ozlen from the parade's organizing committee told the AFP news agency this was a "lie".

LGBT activists have long lobbied unsuccessfully to have sexual orientation and gender identity covered by Turkish laws protecting civil rights and prohibiting hate speech.

While homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey unlike many other Muslim countries, homophobia remains widespread.

For more than a decade, Turkish authorities allowed Pride marches to take place. When thousands set to the streets in defiance of the ban, police deployed water cannons and tear gas.

Last year, with the city on the edge after bombings blamed on Islamic State group and Kurdish militants, organisers were denied permission to march.

The divide has disrupted other pride events this month.

Sunday's scheduled march was on the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, marking the end of a month of fasting.

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