Pride marchers in Istanbul defy a ban to speak up for LGBTI rights. (Photo: Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week)
Turkish police fired tear gas at pride marchers in Istanbul on Sunday (30 June).
Organizers Istanbul LGBT+ Pride Week had hoped the march could go ahead despite authorities banning the event for the last five years.
Police allowed people to gather in a side street as organizers read a statement, according to Turkey-based Bianet.
But, riot police then used shields and fired tear gas to disperse the crowds, local media reported.
Istanbul LGBT+ Pride Week shared photos and videos appearing to show confrontations with police. Police also closed off streets.
‘These walks have become more and more difficult every year, and since we’ve been faced with hate, we’ve been able to keep ourselves safe for the LGBTI+ and to open up our voices’ a statement from Istanbul LGBT+ Pride Week said.
‘Unlike these peaceful provocations, the state’s hate crimes have become visible to police brutality.
Istanbul pride had taken place every year since 2003. And, the event in 2014 brought a record number of participants. It was one of the largest pride events in the majority Muslim region.
Police have reportedly started using teargas & plastic bullets against hundreds who had gathered for #istanbulPride. Footage taken by @aforgutu an before the violence. #Pride #pride2019 #HerYürüyüşümüzOnurYürüyüşü pic.twitter.com/4aQJeXkAst
— amnestypress (@amnestypress) June 30, 2019
Why does Turkey ban pride in Istanbul?
Although gay sex is legal in Turkey, LGBTI citizens report regular discrimination and abuse.
Organizers warned LGBTI citizens are blocked to access fundamental human rights such as education, health, and housing.
Amnesty International on Friday dismissed authorities’ claims of security or public order concerns.
‘It is… a naked attempt to erase the public collective presence of a group which, in the words of the governorate, is deemed to be “societally objectionable”,’ the global human rights group.
Organizers, meanwhile, in a statement said ‘reasons such as public peace and security, terror, public morality, and public health can not govern the state’.
‘The hostility towards LGBTI+ community has even become a state policy’. The statement said they would not abandon the struggle.
‘We are here! Get used to it – we are not going away!’