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Amnesty condemns ban on Pride march in İstanbul, use of excessive force

A protester is detained by police as dozens of LGTBI activists defied a ban and tried to stage a Pride event in central Istanbul on June 26, 2021. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowds and detained dozens of LGTBI activists as hundreds defied a ban and tried to stage a Pride event. The Turkish authorities have banned Istanbul Pride events since 2014, citing public security. Bulent KILIC / AFP

Amnesty International has in a statement condemned a ban imposed by Turkish authorities on a Pride march in central İstanbul over the weekend as well as the excessive use of force on participants of the event.

In its statement released on Tuesday, Amnesty said it “condemns the baseless and arbitrary banning for the sixth consecutive year of Istanbul Pride in clear violation of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression and the use of unnecessary and excessive force on Pride participants on Saturday 26 June in the central district of Beyoğlu.”

Local authorities banned a Gay Pride rally and all Pride Week events, but hundreds flocked to the streets to march nevertheless. Crowds gathered in İstanbul’s famous İstiklal Street, but the police dispersed the crowds and detained people carrying rainbow flags and symbols. Police used tear gas and fired rubber bullets to disperse the protestors. The Turkish police, who detained more than 30 people, has been harshly criticized for using excessive force against people trying to hold a peaceful march.

Amnesty said allegations of torture or other ill treatment must be promptly, independently and impartially investigated and state officials found to have been responsible must be brought to justice in fair trials.

“Amnesty International calls on the Turkish authorities to end the violation of the right to peaceful assembly and expression of LGBTI people and their allies,” the statement said.

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.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, but homophobia is widespread.

After a Pride March in İstanbul drew 100,000 people in 2014, the government responded by banning future events in the city, citing security concerns.

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