15 demonstrators detained during banned Pride march in İstanbul

Demonstrators take part in the LGBT Pride March in the Kadıköy district to celebrate the Pride Month in İstanbul, on June 30, 2024. (Photo by KEMAL ASLAN / AFP)

Several hundred people briefly participated in an LGBTQ Pride march on Sunday in İstanbul that had been banned by local authorities, leading to the detention of some of the protestors, Turkish Minute reported, citing Agence France-Presse.

Waving rainbow flags and chanting various slogans, demonstrators managed to march for about 10 minutes along Baghdad Avenue, a major artery on the Asian side of Turkey’s largest city, before dispersing when police intervened.

Fifteen of the demonstrators were detained, the Bianet news website reported, adding that they were released late at night.

On the European side of İstanbul police closed off Taksim Square, a traditional gathering point for protests, while police were out in force to filter access to the pedestrian shopping İstiklal Avenue.

Several metro stations in the area were also closed.

June is celebrated as Pride Month in Turkey and around the world where LGBTI people hold marches, protests and other activities to demand greater rights and an end to discriminatory practices.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, but homophobia is widespread. After a spectacular Pride March in İstanbul drew 100,000 people in 2014, the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) government responded by banning future events in the city, citing security concerns.

LGBTI+ groups in the past have gone ahead with their plans to hold their marches despite the bans, which sometimes leads to confrontations with the police and detention of the participants.

There have also been instances when the attendees faced criminal charges for “participating in an unlawful assembly” or “failing to disperse despite being warned” and up to three years in prison for taking part in Pride marches.

Amnesty International warned in a statement on May 17 on the occasion of the  International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) that there must be no repeat of the discrimination and violence meted out to Pride participants in Turkey last year.

There was widespread use of unnecessary and arbitrary force against peaceful protesters resulting in at least 224 people being detained across the country in 2023. The detainees included lawyers and journalists as well as people who were not participating in the Pride events.

It is common for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other politicians from the AKP to attack LGBTI+ individuals and accuse them of perversion and ruining family values.

Turkey was ranked 48th among 49 countries as regards the human rights of LGBT people, according to the 2023 Rainbow Europe Map published by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)-Europe.

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