More than 150 people are arrested at the LGBTQIA+ Pride parade in Istanbul

posted on 06/26/2022 14:16

A participant faces riot police wearing a rainbow flag during an LGBT Pride march in Istanbul on June 26, 2022. – (Credit: KEMAL ASLAN/AFP)

This Sunday’s LGBTQIA+ Pride March in Istanbul was seen as in other years violently disrupted by police, who arrested more than 150 people, including an AFP photographer, according to NGOs.

Even before the start of the demonstration, riot police raided several bars in the Cihangir neighborhood around Taksim Square, “randomly” arresting people, including journalists and LGBTQIA+ activists.

The NGO Kaos GL, which works for the protection of LGBTQIA+ people, said on Twitter that more than 150 march participants were arrested in Istanbul and that eight activists were arrested in Izmir (west).

For its part, Amnesty International called on Twitter for the “immediate unconditional release” of the detainees.

The LGBTQIA+ Pride March was officially banned by the city’s governor, but hundreds of rainbow-flagged protesters began to gather in the streets adjacent to the famous Taksim Square, completely closed to the public.

Screaming “The future is ‘queer'”, “You will never be alone” or “Here we are, we are ‘queer’, we’re not going anywhere”, protesters paraded for just over an hour through the streets of the Cihangir neighborhood. Many residents gave signs of support from the windows.

The detainees were transferred in two police buses to the city’s main police station, an AFP cameraman confirmed.

“They try to banish us, prevent [nossa presença]discriminate against us and even kill us every minute of our existence,” said Diren, 22. “But today is the time to defend our rights, to scream that we exist: you will never be able to stop queers,” added the young man, wearing a term that designates any form of altersexuality and rejects the biological definition of gender.

The police tried to stop the press from filming the arrests.

Bülent Kilic, an award-winning AFP photographer with experience in conflict zones, was handcuffed in the back, his shirt ripped off and taken with other detainees in a police van. He had already been arrested last year under the same circumstances.

After a spectacular parade of over 100,000 people in Istanbul in 2014, Turkish authorities ban the event year after year, officially for safety reasons.

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