Istanbul – Turkish police on Sunday broke up a banned Pride march in Istanbul, detaining more than 200 demonstrators, organisers said.
The governor’s office had forbidden the march around Taksim Square in the heart of Istanbul, but protesters gathered nearby under heavy police presence earlier than scheduled.
Police detained protesters, loading them onto buses. AFP journalists saw four busloads of detained people.
Turkish police clash with LGBTQ supporters and news photographer at banned Istanbul Pride march – with officers arresting ‘more than 100 people’ according to organisers
The Pride march in Istanbul has been banned since 2015 by city authorities pic.twitter.com/cvM9KkEyjd
— MassiVeMaC (@SchengenStory) June 27, 2022
Organisers tweeted that more than 200 Pride participants and LGBTQ activists had been detained and that police had refused detainees access to their lawyers.
Pride march has been banned every year since 2015.
Yet the brave people of #Istanbul still join the parade despite knowing that they might face excessive force by the police as they have in the past
— Balki Begum Bayhan 🇺🇦 (@bbbayh) June 26, 2022
Although more than a dozen of them were released later in the day, many were still in police custody at 2000 GMT.
AFP’s chief photographer Bulent Kilic, who was taken away handcuffed from the back, was released later on Sunday after presenting a statement to the police, his lawyer said.
Hundreds of protesters carrying rainbow flags had pressed ahead with the rally in defiance of the police.
“The future is queer,” they chanted. “We are here. We are queer. We are not going anywhere.”
Kaos GL Association, which campaigns to promote the human rights of LGBTQ people against discrimination, said on Twitter that police had detained 12 other people in the western city of Izmir and that one of them was later released.
Police prevented the press from filming the Istanbul arrests, according to AFP journalists.
‘We are banned’
“All those detained solely for their participation in Pride must be released immediately and unconditionally,” Milena Buyum of Amnesty International said.
Diren, a 22-year-old university student, condemned the hate crimes targeting LGBTQ people.
As usual Turkish gov’t doesn’t allow the Gay pride march in Istanbul today. Here a police officer is throwing LGBT flags into dustbin.
The same government permitted the gay parade between 2003-2015, without any issue pic.twitter.com/J9Bp40wSGX
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) June 26, 2022
“We are banned, prevented, discriminated and even killed at every second of our lives. Today, it’s a very special day for us to defend our rights and to say that we do exist,” Diren told AFP.
“Police violence is aimed to stop us but it is not possible. You will be unable to stop the queers.”
Erol Onderoglu of the media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) denounced the arrest of photographer Kilic on Twitter.
“The police seem to have made it a habit” of detaining him, he wrote, recalling that journalists’ organisations had protested what they said was Kilic’s violent detention last year.
On Friday, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, urged Turkish authorities to let the demonstration go ahead and to ensure the safety of the marchers.
“The human rights of LGBTI people in Turkey need to be effectively protected,” she said in a statement.
Although homosexuality has been legal throughout the modern Turkish republic, LGBTQ individuals say there is regular harassment and abuse.
Turkey: Police clash with LGBTQ supporters at banned Pride march in Istanbul.
The Pride march has been banned in Istanbul since 2015 but every year large groups gather anyway to mark the end of Pride Month. #LGBTQ #İstanbul #Turkiye #HumanRights pic.twitter.com/DfIDBtYdaG
— Saia Fishnet (@saiafishnet) June 27, 2022
Istanbul Pride had taken place every year since 2003.
The last march to go ahead without a ban was in 2014 and drew tens of thousands of participants in one of the biggest LGBTQ events in the majority Muslim region.
After 2014, the march was banned each year, officially for security reasons.
In 2020, streaming giant Netflix cancelled the production of a series in Turkey featuring a gay character after failing to obtain government permission for filming.
The same year, French sports brand Decathlon faced boycott calls in Turkey for posting messages of support for LGBTQ people.
— Zaid Ahmd (@realzaidzayn) June 26, 2022