Police ban Turkish pride march

  • 26/06/2017
Turkish police enforce ban on annual pride march
Police fired rubber bullets and detained several people, witnesses said.

Turkish police have enforced a ban on the city's annual gay and transgender pride march in central Istanbul.

Clad in helmets and riot shields, police dispersed groups of demonstrators, and sealed off entrances to Istiklal St, where organisers had planned to hold the march.

Small groups of people gathered in side streets waving rainbow flags, but police fired rubber bullets to disperse one group and detained several people, witnesses said.

Authorities cited security concerns as the reason for the ban, after threats from an ultra-nationalist group.

Istanbul's pride march has attracted tens of thousands of people in the past, making it one of the biggest in the Muslim world.

But in 2015 it was broken up by police, and was banned last year, and again this year after threats from the ultra-nationalist Alperen Hearths group.

The Istanbul governor's office said it decided to prevent the demonstration out of concern for the security of marchers, tourists and residents.

But an organiser spokesperson said the "true reason for the reactions towards a march that took place in peace for 12 years is hate".

"Our security cannot be provided by imprisoning us behind walls, asking us to hide. Our security will be provided by recognising us in the constitution, by securing justice, by equality and freedom."

Istanbul has traditionally been seen as a relative safe haven by members of the gay community from elsewhere in the Middle East, including refugees from Syria and Iraq.