Turkish riot police put an end to a Gay Pride event in Istanbul this weekend (24-25 June) after it was banned by authorities.

Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd on LGBT activists who had gathered to mark the end of Gay Pride week, despite the annual event being banned by authorities for the second year in a row.

At least nineteen people were detained at the event, including Green member of the European Parliament, Terry Reintke, and German Green politician Volker Beck.

The LGBT Pride parade and Trans Pride march were banned by the Istanbul governor last week, due to security concerns for the city, which has been the target of deadly attacks by Islamic State militants or Kurdish rebels.

The gay rights rallies had also been threatened with counter-demonstrations by Turkish Islamist and ultra-nationalist groups.

Activists, however, believe that authorities are citing security concerns as an excuse to ban the gay parades, instead of taking measures to deal with the threats.

Unlike many other Muslim counties, homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, but homophobia remains widespread, with President Tayyip Erdogan and the Islamist-rooted AK Party he founded being slammed for showing little interest in promoting both LGBT and women’s rights.

Istanbul’s Gay Pride parade has historically been a peaceful event, with the city being seen as a safe haven by members of the gay community from elsewhere in the Middle East. However, tear gas was used again – along with water cannons – to stop the event in 2015 after organisers were refused permission to hold the event because it coincided with the holy month of Ramadan.

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