A participant holds a rainbow flag during the gay pride parade in central Istanbul June 30. REUTERS photo
After a month of protests, Istanbul's Taksim Square braced June 30 for the 11th annual gay pride march, as thousands of gay rights activists and demonstrators who participated in the Gezi Park gatherings marched on the iconic İstiklal Avenue.
Rainbow flags and banners supporting peace in Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian and Arabic were displayed at the march.
Some of the banners criticized the comparison of homosexuality with a disease, as described by former Family Minister Aliye Kavaf. Another banner read, "I asked Zeki Müren, who told me to resist," in memory of the legendary and flamboyant Turkish singer who became famous during the 1950s. Although he never admitted to being homosexual, Müren changed perceptions across Turkey by openly wearing women’s clothing and make-up.
The protesters who have been holding forums in small neighborhood parks across Istanbul also joined the pride march.
Deputies from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), including Binnaz Toprak, who was recently the architect of an inquiry proposal at Parliament into the discrimination faced by the LGBT community, Şafak Pavey, Melda Onur and Hüseyin Aygün participated in the event.
The demonstrators also chanted the name of Medeni Yıldırım, who was recently killed in Diyarbakır's Lice district after being shot by soldiers during a protest denouncing the construction of a gendarmerie outpost.
German Greens co-chair Claudia Roth was also among the participants, according to daily Hürriyet.
LGBT rights groups have been very active during the protests against the demolition of Istanbul's Gezi Park, which spread across the country throughout June.