Turkey LGBT: Istanbul’s Gay Pride organisers vow to defy ban

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Activists paint walls in rainbow colours during ahead of the annual Gay Pride march in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo: 24 June 2017Image copyright
EPA

Image caption

Activists have been painting city walls in rainbow colours ahead of the annual march

Organisers of Istanbul’s annual Gay Pride march say it will go ahead despite a ban by the authorities of Turkey’s largest city.

The event has been called for Sunday evening in the city’s Taksim Square.

Authorities banned the march for third year in a row, citing security concerns after threats from far-right groups.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey – unlike in many Muslim nations – but analysts say homophobia remains widespread in the country.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose ruling AK Party is rooted in conservative Islam, has denied wanting to impose traditional religious values, saying he is committed to secularism. But he supports Turks’ right to express their religion more openly.

He has been accused of growing authoritarianism in recent years.

‘Undemocratic’

Lara Ozlen from the Gay Pride organising committee told AFP news agency: “It is obvious that a peaceful march is part of our constitutional right”.

“It’s been known for years. Instead of protecting us, to say ‘do not march’ just because some will be disturbed is undemocratic,” she added.

Earlier, Istanbul’s governor office banned the march, following threats from far-right groups to disrupt the event.

The city officials also said they had not received a formal request to hold the march – a claim denied by the organisers.

Last year, riot police fired tear gas and plastic bullets after transgender rights activists gathered in Istanbul – in defiance of a ban on marching.



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