Thousands of Turkish gay rights activist joined a Pride march in Istanbul yesterday to call for more rights.

Carrying signs in Turkish and English, marchers proceeded down one of the city’s busiest streets.

According to campaigners, the march is the only gay event of significance in a Muslim country.

Last week, an Amnesty International report accused the Turkish government of ignoring discrimination and violence against gay people.

The report said the government has refused to back laws against discrimination and has allowed leading politicians to make explicitly homophobic statements.

Last year, the women’s minister Aliye Kavaf said: “I believe homosexual is a biological disorder, an illness, and must be treated.”

The report says that gay people in Turkey are often forced to hide their sexual orientation to avoid harassment, discrimination or violence.

While homosexuality has never been criminalised, LGBT people are frequently discriminated against in criminal and civil processes on the basis of “immoral behaviour”, Amnesty said.