Words: Alastair James; pictures: Kaos GL Association
More than 200 people in Istanbul were arrested and detained by police on Sunday (26 June) during a Pride march, with some reports suggesting the true figure could be nearly 400.
Protestors marched in defiance of the cancellation of the city's Pride but were blocked by police around Taksim Square and the nearby Cihangir neighbourhood.
Istanbul Pride March, Turkey, 26 June 2022. The Turkish Goverment has banned the Istanbul Pride March as they already did in previous years. #Pride2022 #istanbulpride #OnurYuerueyuesue #PrideMonth @epaphotos pic.twitter.com/lv9HzGODDw— Erdem Şahin (@_erdemsahin) June 26, 2022
The Times of Israel reports that people chanted: "The future is queer," and "We are here. We are queer. We are not going anywhere."
The human rights and LGBTQ rights group, Kaos GL Association, says nearly 400 people were arrested and released after a night in custody.
UPDATE: Police attacked İstanbul LGBTI+ Pride March this year as well. LGBTI+s marched to Cihangir by crossing over police attack. 373 LGBTI+ activists were detained and they were released after a night at custody.https://t.co/a0eZcSnaXG pic.twitter.com/2xxrtfShBT— Kaos GL (@KaosGL) June 27, 2022
Diren, a 22-year-old university student, told AFP that, "We are banned, prevented, discriminated, and even killed at every second of our lives. Today, it’s a very special day for us to defend our rights and to say that we do exist.
"Police violence is aimed to stop us, but it is not possible. You will be unable to stop the queers."
Milena Buyum from the international human rights campaign organisation, Amnesty International, has demanded "All those detained solely for their participation in Pride must be released immediately and unconditionally."
Sharing images of the protestors and police ILGA-Europe echoed calls for the detained to be released.
Today, Istanbul Pride was violently repressed by police who have arrested more than 200 people so far, and attacked journalists. We call for the immediate release of all those detained & investigation into use of excesssive force by police. https://t.co/PxynUw5vCI— ILGA-Europe (@ILGAEurope) June 26, 2022
The last time a Pride parade went ahead in the Turkish capital was 2015 and had done so every year since 2003.
Elsewhere in the Beyoglu district of Istanbul, all Pride events were banned with authorities saying they could lead to public unrest due to society's sensitivities, as reported by Reuters.
And The Jerusalem Post reports a Pride parade in Mitzpe Ramon was cancelled and given over to an anti-LGBTQ group.
Homosexuality isn't a crime but reports of harassment aren't uncommon.
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