Turkish police arrest protesters during Istanbul Pride march

Turkish police arrested dozens of LGBTQ+ activists and a journalist on Sunday during a Pride march in Istanbul.

Protesters had gathered near Taksim Square despite the governor’s office banning the march near the iconic Istanbul landmark. Police, who had lined the streets in anticipation of the march, detained dozens of protesters and placed them in buses where they were held in custody. Among those arrested were AFP’s chief photographer Bulent Kilic, who witnesses say was handcuffed from behind.

Images posted online showed hundreds of protesters lining the streets of Istanbul carrying rainbow flags, despite the heavy police presence. “The future is queer,” they chanted. “We are here. We are queer. We are not going anywhere.”

Last week, Istanbul’s governor banned the march from taking place for the seventh consecutive year.

Hours before the march, the Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week group posted a series of safety precautions for demonstrators attending their banned protest, anticipating potential police interference. Organisers confirmed the Istanbul Governor’s Office had denied their application to hold the march on Friday. Posting the rejection letter online, the group described the reason for the ban as “the same crap” they face every year when applying to hold the march. In the letter, the Istanbul Governor’s Office said the proposed march was not “appropriate”, citing security concerns and the need to uphold public order.

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, had urged Turkish authorities on Friday to let the march go ahead. Despite homosexuality being legal in Turkey since its founding as a republic, members of the LGBTQ+ community face regular harassment by the local authorities.

Istanbul Pride has taken place every year since 2003. The last march to take place without a ban was in 2014, drawing tens of thousands of people.


Middle East Eye

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