Turkey: Police break Istanbul Pride arrested 200 LGBT activists

Istanbul Pride has been officially banned since 2015, but dozens still appear to be calling for better LGBTQ + rights in Turkey (Photo: Reuters / EPA / Getty)

Dozens of people have been arrested after police staged a Pride protest in Istanbul.

Turkey’s largest city has banned the march since 2015, but organizers have called the ban illegal and large crowds still gather every year to mark the end of Pride Month.

Kaos GL, a leading LGBTQ group, said shortly before the start of the march yesterday at 5pm that the police were arresting 52 people.

The Pride Week Committee later said more than 100 people had been arrested.

Images on social media showed people being frozen and loaded on buses, including at least one news photographer, who later revealed he worked for AFP.

Estimates of the total number of arrests vary between 100 and 200 people.

Organizers tweeted that police detainees had denied access to their lawyers.

Although more than a dozen people were released later in the day, many were still in police possession at 10 p.m.

Turkish police intervene in Instabul Pride violence and arrest dozens of protesters (Photo: Kemal Aslan / AFP)
LGBTQ + protesters march on Taksim Square in the heart of Istanbul (Photo: Emrah Oprukcu / NurPhoto)

There was no immediate word on the number of arrests by the police or the governor’s office.

Journalists union DISK Basin-Is said ‘many’ were beaten by police.

Hundreds of activists carrying rainbow flags had the rally in conflict with the police.

Metal gates and lines of riot officers cordoned off streets around Taksim Square and Istiklal Avenue in the Beyoglu district, the traditional gathering place for protesters ahead of the march.

“The future is strange,” activists shouted.

‘We’re here. We are strange. We’re not going anywhere. ‘

Police arrived at the Mars with Riot Gear (Picture: EPA)
LGBTQ + protesters also abused a group of men shouting Islamic slogans (Photo: Emrah Oprukcu / NurPhoto)

Local residents smashed pots and pans from their windows and balconies in a show of support for the marchers when a police helicopter ran over their heads.

The reaction of the police to the incident has been heavily criticized by Turkish and international activists as well as human rights groups.

“All those detained solely for their participation in Pride should be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Milena Buyum of Amnesty International.

Diren, a 22-year-old college student, condemned the hate crimes targeting LGBTQ + people.

“We are banned, prevented, discriminated against and even killed at every second of our lives,” Diren told AFP.

Protesters say police can not stop them (Image: Emrah Oprukcu / NurPhoto / REX / Shutterstock)
Turkish police block Istanbul Pride, swooping in to arrest dozens of protesters (Photo: EPA)

“Today is a very special day for us to defend our rights and say we want to exist.”

‘Police violence is aimed at stopping us, but it is not possible. You will not be able to stop the queers. ‘

On Friday, European Commissioner for Human Rights Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic called on the Turkish authorities to continue the demonstration and ensure the safety of the marchers.

“The human rights of LGBTI people in Turkey must be effectively protected,” she said in a statement.

Although homosexuality has been legal during the period of the modern Turkish republic, LGBTQ + people say that there is regular harassment and abuse.

Police try to stop journalists from taking pictures of Pride and the authorities’ reaction (Photo: Reuters)

Turkey was previously one of the few Muslim-majority countries to allow Pride marches, with an annual event held since 2003 in Istanbul.

The last event in the city to continue without a ban took place in 2014 and drew tens of thousands of participants to one of the largest LGBTQ + events in the majority of the Muslim region.

When the march was banned, the official reason was given security concerns.

In recent years, the government has taken a tough approach to public events by groups that do not represent their religiously conservative views.

Large numbers of arrests and the use of tear gas and plastic pellets by police have accompanied Pride events.

Counter-demonstrations by nationalists and Islamists, who claim that the LGBTQ + community is a danger to ‘Turkish values’, have also threatened marchers.

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Turkey: Police break Istanbul Pride arrested 200 LGBT activists

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