Turkish riot police use tear gas to break up Pride parade
Riot police in Turkey deployed tear gas and rubber bullets during the country’s annual Pride parade on Saturday in an effort to interrupt the event, the latest in a string of government hostilities toward the LGBTQ community.
The Washington Post reported that battalions of police officers sought out marchers and tried to stop them from gathering on Istiklal Avenue, a center for shopping and tourism.
The governor of Istanbul reportedly declined to provide a permit for the parade, which has been banned for the past seven years after being held since 2003.
Still, hundreds of people waved rainbow flags while marching through the city’s Beyoglu district, the Post reported.
“Rainbow is not a crime — discrimination is,” the marchers chanted, according to the newspaper.
The strong action against the LGBTQ parade comes amid a difficult year for gay and transgender people in Turkey that, according to advocacy groups, has been marked by discrimination from top officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the country’s interior minister, the Post reported.
The two officials reportedly lambasted LGBTQ people when students were protesting at a well-known Istanbul university, contending that the LGBTQ community does not exist.
“There is no such thing as LGBT. This country is national, spiritual and walking toward the future with these values,” Erdoğan said during remarks to members of his party, according to the Post.
The Turkish government also removed itself from the Istanbul Convention earlier this year, the Post reported. The convention is a European Union treaty that works to prevent violence against women.
The government said it was pulling its involvement from the treaty because it was “normalizing” homosexuality, according to the Post.
The governor’s office of the Turkish capital of Ankara announced in 2017 that it was banning public events related to LGBT issues “in order to provide peace and security.”