Police stifle İstanbul Gay Pride rally, detain AP reporter


Turkish police have thwarted an attempt by LGBT activists to hold a pride march in İstanbul’s famed Taksim square to mark one of the largest organized gay festivals in Turkey.

According to Turkish media outlets and several pro-LGBT twitter accounts, police fired plastic bullets at a group of around 40 activists in the country’s largest city.

The BBC’s Mark Lowen also said that the heavy police presence stopped people from entering Istiklal street, where the rally was scheduled to start.

According to the Hürriyet daily, at least 10 people have so far been detained and among them was Bram Janssen, an AP reporter covering the attempted march.

On Saturday, the İstanbul Governor’s Office banned an LGBTI pride parade scheduled to take place in Taksim on June 25, citing security and public order concerns.

“The application for the parade was not properly submitted to our office in accordance with Law 2911. There is also serious criticism of this parade from various segments of society on social media,” said the statement issued by the governor’s office.

“In line with our assessment, and taking into consideration the safety of residents and tourists in the area as well as public order, it will not be permitted to hold the parade or to gather and protest on that day, before that day or after that day.”

The organizing committee for LGBTI pride week reacted to the decision of the Istanbul Governor’s Office, saying banning the march contravenes international conventions, Turkish law and the constitution.

Rejecting the statement that they did not submit an appropriate application for the march, the committee said: “We would like to once again underline that we are not in one place but everywhere in the city. We want to speak out, not one day but every day. We say once again: ‘Get used to it, we are here and are not going anywhere’.”

Last Monday, the Alperen Ocakları, an offshoot of Turkish nationalist movement the Grey Wolves (Ülkü Ocakları), announced that they would not allow LGBTI members to hold a pride parade on June 25.

“Even if the government permits it, we will not let them walk,” said Kürşat Mican, Istanbul head of Alperen Ocakları during a program on KRT TV.

“Wherever they walk, we will go there and block the street. They can come there,” added Mican, who stood trial for threats against LGBTI members ahead of the pride parade last year.

A group of NGOs announced on Wednesday that they planned to file a criminal complaint against the head of the nationalist Alperen Ocakları’s İstanbul branch over his statement.

Last year, the İstanbul Governor’s Office banned a pre-scheduled LGBTI pride parade to take place in Taksim on June 19 and 26, after an attack at an Orlando gay nightclub, where a gunman killed 49 people and injured more than 50.

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