Unlike the joyful celebrations taking place in some European cities, İstanbul was the venue on Saturday of violent confrontations and clashes between police and participants of an LGBT Pride parade, resulting in the detention of 20 people.
The parade participants gathered in their usual venue at Taksim Square in İstanbul, defying a ban imposed by the İstanbul Governor’s Office.
The governor’s office refused to authorize the march, citing the “protection of public peace and security, general health and morals.”
The Pride Week Committee said police fired rubber bullets and used tear gas to disperse the crowd and that one reporter, photojournalist Bülent Kılıç from Agence France-Presse, was beaten while being detained. Photos Kılıç had taken showed the extent of the force used by the police against the participants.
The heavy police presence in Taksim attracted the attention of famous US pop icon Madonna, who posted a video of German singer Liana Georgi on her Instagram account who was seen dancing while walking in front of a barricade of police with riot gear. “Why are there so many PoPo?” wrote Madonna.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, but homophobia is widespread. After a spectacular Pride March in İstanbul drew 100,000 people in 2014, the government responded by banning future events in the city, citing security concerns.
Turkey was ranked 48th among 49 countries as regards the human rights of LGBT people, according to the 2021 Rainbow Europe Map published by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)-Europe in May.
According to the index, a large number of hate speech incidents and campaigns took place again in Turkey in 2020 against LGBT people, and in some instances the government or public figures blamed LGBT people or gay men for the COVID-19 pandemic and for spreading other illnesses.