Police use force to disperse attendees of Pride Week picnic in İstanbul’s Maçka Park

Photo: Twitter @bogaziciLGBTI

Turkish police used force to disperse a group of people attending a picnic Tuesday in İstanbul’s Maçka Park to celebrate Pride Week, Turkish media reported.

According to a statement from the Progressive Lawyers Association, the police entered the area with dogs and used force to disperse people. According to the Pride Week Committee one person was detained.

The Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ community said on Twitter that several of its members had been beaten and one person suffered a broken arm.

The İstanbul Şişli Governor’s Office had banned the picnic, saying it would cause “public disorder.” The governor’s office said in a written notification to the İstanbul Pride Committee that all activities in the context of Pride Week had been banned for 30 days.

The committee slammed the decision on social media, with the hashtag “Picnics cannot be banned” trending on Twitter. “Several of our friends were beaten and injured during the intervention. We will not stay silent, we are not scared and we will not obey,” said the committee from their Twitter account.

Several police officers had surrounded the park before the picnic, denying entry to anyone with items that had rainbow symbols.

Lawyer and human rights activist Levent Pişkin said he was not allowed entry to the park by the police for wearing a mask with a rainbow flag. “They told me I could only enter the park if I took off my mask,” Pişkin tweeted.

Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a deputy from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said it was unbelievable that the Şişli Governor’s Office had banned all activities in the district just so Pride Week could not take place.

Turkey was ranked 48th among 49 countries as regards the human rights of LGBT people, according to the 2021 Rainbow Europe Map published by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)-Europe.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, but homophobia is widespread.

After a Pride March in İstanbul drew 100,000 people in 2014, the government responded by banning future events in the city, citing security concerns.

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