Tear gas and rubber bullets were used by Turkish police to disperse a large crowd of hundreds of people who gathered in Istanbul to demonstrate against the ban against the city’s 17th lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) Pride March, the T24 news portal reported on Sunday.
The crowd had gathered in Istanbul’s Taksim district reportedly to release an official statement about the ban on LGBTI Pride March scheduled for June 30.
According to a report by T24 journalist Gonca Tokyol, police officers used tear gas and rubber bullets against the protesters during and after they read out their statement on Sunday.
At least five people were detained, including the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Istanbul MP Ahmet Sik and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP)’s deputy leader Gokce Gokcen.
“We do not give up on our lives, our solidarity, and our organized struggle! We are here, get used to it, we won’t go anywhere,” the demonstrators said in their statement.
“Those who imposed a ban on our march citing copy-paste reasons such as people’s peace and safety, terror, public morality and public health, which do not relate to one another, once again showed us that they cannot rule this government,” they added.
The protesters argued that what disturbs the public peace is not their peaceful march but the police officers who “have been attacking” on those marches for the last five years.
“Those who make us as targets are a handful of people with ambition for power that will eventually become history. We will win, and you will lose!” they further underlined in the statement.
The annual pride march in Istanbul for LGBTI rights was banned by Turkish authorities for the fifth year in a row. The ban was imposed by the Istanbul Governor’s Office for the march in central Taksim district, where it has traditionally been held, as well as a square designated for demonstrations west of Turkey’s largest city.
The official ban was also in effect in a number of other locations in Turkey, including the southern provinces of Antalya and Mersin.
Calling on Turkey to lift the “arbitrary ban” on Istanbul’s pride march, US rights watchdog Amnesty International has said authorities turned down all suggested locations in the city by deeming the LGBTI community “socially objectionable”.
It also urged authorities from Turkey to allow Istanbul’s LGBTI community to hold their annual pride parade later this month, advising supporters to send emails to Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya, demanding that the march be held safely and without restrictions.
Almost 100,000 people participated in Istanbul’s last such march was held in 2014. Since then, Turkish police have blocked the staging of the marches.