Dozens of people have been detained in central Istanbul after city officials banned an LGBTQ pride parade, organizers said on Sunday.
Turkey’s largest city has banned the march since 2015, but still, large crowds gather every year to mark the end of Pride Month. Organizers called the ban illegal.
“We are not giving up, we are not afraid! We will continue our activities in safe places and online, ”the LGBTI + Pride Week Committee in Istanbul announced on Twitter.
Chaos GL, a prominent LGBTQ group, said just before the march began at 5pm (14:00 GMT) that police had detained 52 people that had been detained. The Pride Week committee later said more than 100 had been arrested.
The number of those arrested was not immediately from the police or the governor’s office.
Images on social media show people being searched and boarded buses, including at least one journalist photographer. The union of journalists DISK Basin-Is said that the police beat “many”.
Locals pounded pots and pans from their windows and balconies in support of protesters as a police helicopter circled above them.
Metal fences and rows of riot police cordoned off the streets around Taksim Square and Istiklal Avenue in the Beyoglu district, the heart of the city’s trade and tourism sector, as well as a traditional gathering place for protesters.
Metro services around Taksim Square were closed hours before the march.
Turkey used to be one of the few countries with a Muslim majority that allowed pride marches. The first was held in 2003, a year after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party came to power.
In recent years, the government has adopted a sharp approach to public events by groups that do not represent its religiously conservative views. A large number of arrests and the use of tear gas and plastic balls by police followed Pride’s events.
Counter-demonstrations by nationalists and Islamists, who claim the LGBTQ community poses a threat to “Turkish values”, also threatened protesters.
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