Turkish police crack down on Gay Pride in Istanbul

Turkish police crack down on Gay Pride in Istanbul

Turkish police crack down on Gay Pride in Istanbul

Riot police use a water cannon to disperse LGBT rights activist before a Gay Pride Parade in central Istanbul, Turkey, June 28, 2015. REUTERS photo

Istanbul police dispersed LGBTI Pride Parade participants with tear gas and water cannon on June 28 before a much-anticipated march even started, as celebrants were ready with rainbow-colored flags and placards to march along Istanbul’s central İstiklal Avenue.

As crowds gathered to start the 13th Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade on June 28 from Istanbul’s central Taksim Square to the neighborhood of Tünel, police fired tear gas and water to disperse the crowd. 

The Istanbul LGBTI Pride Week Committee, a group that organized the series of events during the 23rd Pride Week, said the 13rd Istanbul LGBTi Pride Parade, which was scheduled to start at 5 p.m. on June 28 at Taksim Square, had “suddenly been banned by the Istanbul Governor’s Office using the month of Ramadan as the reason without any announcement.” 

Police attacked people with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon, the committee said in a press briefing at around 5:30 p.m. on June 28, adding that all entries to and exits from the Taksim Square and İstiklal Avenue had been shut down.

The first LGBTI Pride Parade in Turkey was held in 2003 with only 30 people attending the event. This number increased to around 5,000 attendants in 2010 and rose to more than 10,000 in 2011. 

The participants of the parade then rose to 20,000 in 2012 a year before about 50,000 people attended the parade in 2013, the same year the Gezi Park demonstrations struck the country with millions taking to streets to protest the unjust policies of the government. The Gezi park protests had erupted as a sit-in against the demolition of a central Istanbul park near the Taksim Square, the only leafy area of the city center, for the construction of a shopping mall in the form of military barracks.