The Advocate July/Aug 2022
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Almost 400 People Released After Arrests at Istanbul Pride March

Istanbul Pride participants

Istanbul LGBTQ+ groups say that over 350 people were arrested in the city over the weekend after participating in Istanbul Pride, which had been banned by the Turkish government.

The Ankara-based LGBTQ+ rights group Kaos GL said those detained at Sunday’s demonstration were released Monday.

“Police attacked İstanbul LGBTI+ Pride March this year as well. LGBTI+s marched to Cihangir by crossing over police attack. 373 LGBTI+ activists were detained and they were released after a night at custody,” the group tweeted.

“Together we have force. We get our power from our resistance, and we continue to resist. As LGBTI+s who celebrate their dignity and existence on the streets every year in the last week of June, we are here with persistence in our struggle, hope for tomorrow, and the courage and solidarity we receive from each other. We were, we are, we will be!” the group said in a statement.

Amnesty Turkey called the ban “unlawful” under international human rights agreements.

Last week, the Istanbul districts of Beyoglu and Kadikoy prohibited Pride-related events. The governors of the districts said doing so was to protect the areas, according to NPR.

Istanbul Pride organizers released a statement after this year’s ban was announced. “This decision is illegal and we would like to inform you that we will use all our rights and make the necessary objections. We would like to thank our entire network of lawyers and venues that have supported us. We won’t give up, we are not afraid!” the organizers said, Balkan Insight reports.

Police had closed off streets and subway stations around the districts to stop any participants from gathering. However, several hundred still were able to organize.

Journalists were prevented by police from filming the arrests of the marchers, according to Agence France-Presse. 

This year’s prohibition is just the latest ban on Istanbul Pride, which was held without incident for more than 10 years beginning in 2003. Then, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was prime minister.

About 100,000 people came out for Istanbul Pride 2014.

For several years now, the Turkish government has begun targeting the LGBTQ+ community, even though same-sex sexual activity isn’t illegal in the country. Various local governments have also banned Pride events in cities and universities, and many have been arrested over participating in the forbidden marches.

Authorities have used tear gas and water cannons to disperse participants in recent Istanbul Prides.

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