Turkey bans gay and transgender pride march for second year

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Istanbul’s governor has banned
a gay and transgender pride march which was due to take place in
the city on Sunday, citing security concerns after threats from
an ultra-nationalist group.

It will be the second year running that Istanbul’s LGBT
march, described in the past as the biggest in the Muslim world,
has been blocked by city authorities.

The ultra-nationalist Alperen Hearths group threatened last
week to prevent the march if authorities did not act, and the
governor’s office said on Saturday that it took its decision out
of concern for the security of marchers, tourists and residents.

The organisers of the march said they would discuss their
response later on Saturday.

The gay pride parade in Istanbul – a city seen as a relative
safe haven by members of the gay community from elsewhere in the
Middle East, including refugees from Syria and Iraq – has
usually been a peaceful event.

But two years ago police used tear gas and water cannon to
disperse participants, after organisers said they had been
refused permission because it coincided with the holy month of
Ramadan.

While homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey unlike many
other Muslim countries, homophobia remains widespread. Critics
say President Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AK Party
have shown little interest in expanding rights for minorities,
gays and women, and are intolerant of dissent.



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