Police disperse LGBTI activists trying to march in Istanbul

Police disperse LGBTI activists trying to march in Istanbul

ISTANBUL - Associated Press
Police disperse LGBTI activists trying to march in Istanbul

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex activists gathered on July 1 for an LGBTI pride march in Istanbul, moving from street to street for an hour as police tried to end an event that the local government had banned for the fourth year in a row.

Hundreds of people chanted slogans and waved rainbow flags on side streets along İstiklal Avenue, Istanbul’s main pedestrian thoroughfare. The organizers released a statement saying the city’s ban would not deter them from marching peacefully.

Despite the Istanbul Governor’s Office’s ban, police allowed the organizers to read a press statement. “We do not recognize this ban,” the group said in the statement read out loud by a volunteer, calling the prohibition imposed by Istanbul’s governor “comical.”

Police told the crowd to disperse after the statement. Officers patrolled with dogs and had water cannons stationed nearby.

They fired tear gas on groups in some areas and were seen elsewhere pushing and shouting at participants.

March organizers said five people were detained by the police on July 1.

The authorities have cited security reasons and public “sensitivities” as grounds for barring LGBTI marches since 2015.

Prior to that, they had allowed pride marches every year since the first one took place in 2003. As many as 100,000 people attended Istanbul Pride in 2014.

The Ankara Governor’s Office on July 29 also banned a screening of “Pride,” a Golden Globe-nominated film about gay activists in the United Kingdom, citing the need to protect “public order.”

Istanbul, ISTANBUL, LGBT, Pride Week