Turkish police detain more than 30 during Pride Week activities in İstanbul

A protester is detained by police as dozens of LGTBI activists defied a ban and tried to stage a Pride event in central Istanbul on June 26, 2021. - Police used tear gas to disperse the crowds and detained dozens of LGTBI activists as hundreds defied a ban and tried to stage a Pride event. The Turkish authorities have banned Istanbul Pride events since 2015, citing public security. (Photo by Bulent KILIC / AFP)

Turkish police detained more than 30 people over the weekend during İstanbul’s Pride Week activities, Turkish media reported.

Local authorities banned a Gay Pride rally and all Pride Week events, but hundreds flocked to the streets to march nevertheless. Crowds came together in İstanbul’s famous İstiklal Street, but the police dispersed the crowds and detained people carrying rainbow flags and symbols. Both entrances to İstiklal were blocked, and people who had already entered were made to leave.

Images of a man being forcefully detained while he was sitting in front of a cafe with friends in İstanbul’s Cihangir district sparked a general outcry. Witnesses recorded several policemen pinning the man to the ground and handcuffing him. The man was apparently detained for asking the police what they were doing after one policeman knocked over a chair next to them.

Pride Week has been tumultuous in Turkey as all pride events were prohibited by the governor’s office. Authorities said the events were banned because they could cause “public disorder” and “posed a risk to public health and morals.”

The police also dispersed a picnic organized as part of Pride Week last Tuesday. According to the Pride Week Committee one person was detained and several people were beaten.

The İstanbul Pride Week Committee said on Twitter that they would continue to resist the police although their members were being detained.

The police also used rubber bullets and tear gas while trying to disperse the crowds. According to the Sputnik news agency, one resident asked the police not to use gas cannisters because their child was sleeping inside. The police went up to their apartment and detained the person on the spot without a detention warrant.

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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