Turkish authorities arrest dozens in Istanbul over banned Pride march
Dozens of people were detained in central Istanbul after city authorities banned an LGBTQ Pride march, organizers said on Sunday.
Turkey’s largest city has banned the march since 2015, yet huge crowds gather every year to celebrate the end of Pride Month. Organizers called the ban illegal.
“We’re not giving up, we’re not afraid! We will continue our activities in safe places and online,” the Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee said on Twitter.
Kaos GL, a prominent LGBTQ group, said 52 people had been detained shortly before the start of the march at 5pm (1400 GMT). The Pride Week committee later said more than 100 had been arrested.
The number of arrests by the police or the governor’s office was not immediately known.
Social media showed people being searched and loaded onto buses, including at least one news photographer. Journalists’ union DISK Basin-Is said “many” were beaten by police.
Local residents slammed pots and pans from their windows and balconies in support of the protesters as a police helicopter circled above them.
Metal fences and rows of riot police closed off the streets around Taksim Square and Istiklal Avenue in the Beyoglu district, the heart of the city’s shopping and tourism sector, as well as a traditional rallying point for protesters.
Metro services around Taksim Square were shut down hours before the march.
Turkey was previously one of the few Muslim-majority countries to allow Pride marches. The first took place in 2003, the year after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party came to power.
In recent years, the government has cracked down on public events by groups that do not represent its religiously conservative views. High 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 the LGBTQ community poses a threat to “Turkish values,” have also threatened protesters.