More than 150 demonstrators in a Pride march in Istanbul were arrested by the Turkiye police on Sunday, as reported by AFP. The governor’s office had banned the march around Taksim Square in the heart of Istanbul but protesters gathered nearby under heavy police presence earlier than scheduled.
“All those detained solely for their participation in Pride must be released immediately and unconditionally,” Milena Buyum of Amnesty International said.
Police detained protesters, loading them into buses. Kilic, who was also detained last year during the Pride march, was in police custody.
Hundreds of protesters carrying rainbow flags pressed ahead with the rally in defiance of the police.
“The future is queer,” they chanted. “We are here. We are queer. We are not going anywhere.”
Police prevented the press from filming the arrests, according to AFP journalists.
Although homosexuality has been legal throughout the period of the modern Turkish republic, LGBTQ individuals point to regular harassment and abuse.
Diren, a 22-year-old university student, condemned the hate crimes targeting LGBTQ people.
“We are banned, prevented, discriminated and even killed at every second of our lives. Today, it’s a very special day for us to defend our rights and to say that we do exist,” Diren told AFP.
Istanbul Pride had taken place every year since 2003. The last march which went ahead without a ban was in 2014 and drew tens of thousands of participants in one of the biggest LGBTQ events in the majority Muslim region.
In 2020, streaming giant Netflix cancelled the production of a series in Turkiye featuring a gay character after failing to obtain government permission for the filming. The same year, French sports brand Decathlon faced boycott calls in Turkiye for posting messages of support for LGBTQ people.