Organisers call off official Istanbul Pride march citing security and Government ban
Organisers of Istanbul’s official Pride march have called off the event, citing a Government ban, and security concerns.
Officials in Turkey earlier last week ordered that the capital’s Pride parade be cancelled – claiming the ban was because of ‘security’ concerns following a mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando which left 49 dead.
“We are announcing with sadness that we will not be able to hold the 14th Pride March,” the Istanbul LGBTI and Pride committee said in a statement.
“The Governor’s Office has chosen to violate the ‘Law on Meetings and Demonstration Marches’ guaranteed by the Constitution as a democratic right,” the statement said.
But dozens of defiant activists are expected to take to the streets of Istanbul as they did last weekend, despite the ban.
Over 300 police officers were deployed to the scene in riot gear. A water cannon was also seen at the site of the march.
According to reports, one man tore up a pro gay-rights banner.
During a “scuffle” as was described by the BBC, police opened fire with tear gas, using rubber bullets.
Last year’s Istanbul Pride was also forcibly dispersed by police firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd.
When the march was banned, Istanbul Pride’s organisers said it was a “flagrant violation of the constitution and the law”.
Far-right groups in Turkey had issued repeated threats against LGBT rights activists following events in Orlando.
Organiser Ömer Akpinar told the Independent: “This is a continuation of the story that started last year when the police attacked gay activists.
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“Police waited for people to get together, then used tear gas.”
He added: “The LGBT community in Turkey is a little divided about whether people should march or not.
“It’s not only about this latest threat of ultra-nationalists who might attack people, but if you look at the recent history of Turkey, we’ve had so many bombings and attacks.
“So people are afraid it might be an occasion for IS or another terrorist group to kill thousands of people.”
In the UK, Home Secretary Theresa May said that Pride events this month would go ahead with extra security measures, following the attack in Orlando.