LGBT: Turkish riot police fire tear gas, rubber bullets to break up Trans Pride parade in Istanbul
Istanbul riot police have fired tear gas and rubber pellets to disperse a march for transgender people that was banned after ultra-nationalists said that “degenerates” could not demonstrate.
- The annual Turkish parade is the biggest in the Muslim world
- Participants say Ramadan is being used as an excuse to crack down on the LGBT community
- In Turkey, being gay is not a crime but hostility remains widespread
Several hundred riot police surrounded the main Taksim Square — where demonstrations have been banned since major anti-government protests in 2013 — to prevent the Trans Pride event taking place during Ramadan.
As the police swooped in on the rally of about 150 people, the crowd fled into nearby streets — Turkish media reported at least two people were detained.
Authorities have banned transgender and gay pride marches this month, citing security concerns after the ultra-nationalist warnings against any such events on Turkish soil.
“Football fans can rally in this country whenever they want. We were going to do a peaceful activity,” said Ebru Kiranci, spokesperson of the Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association.
“(The) holy month of Ramadan is an excuse … if you are going to respect Ramadan, respect us too.
“The heterosexuals think it’s too much for us, only two hours in 365 days.”
The annual gay pride parade, described as the biggest in the Muslim world, was due to take place on June 26.
LGBT hostility is widespread in Turkey
Istanbul has held gay pride parades since 2003, attracting tens of thousands of marchers, but last year’s was broken up by police.
Although the Turkish republic is constitutionally secular, the vast majority of the population is Muslim.
This has effectively shifted Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential system even before Mr Erdogan seeks to amend the constitution through a referendum to make that official.
Unlike many other Muslim countries, homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey but hostility toward gays remains widespread.