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Turkish Officials Cancel Istanbul Pride Out of Fear for the Safety of Participants

Istanbul Pride

Anti-LGBT groups have intimidated the government into canceling the event three years in a row. 

Plans for a pride march slated for Sunday in Istanbul, Turkey were moving forward despite a threat of violence as of just a few days ago, but the governor's office in Istanbul gave into homophobic groups and announced Saturday that Pride would be banned for the safety of participants, according to The Associated Press.

"There will be no permission for a demonstration or a march on the said date considering the safety of tourists in the area... and public order," the Istanbul governor's office announced.

The decision to block the pride march that would have stepped off from Taksim Square marks the third year in a row that Pride was canceled for safety reasons. While homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, hate crimes and violations of human rights against LGBT people is an ongoing source of concern according to NPR.

Worries about the safety of people at the Pride parade ramped up when Kursat Mican, a spokesman for a group that has ties to a right-wing nationalist party, vowed in a television interview that consisted mostly of a homophobic rant, to halt the parade, according to NPR.

"If the state lets them march, we will stop them. Wherever region they try to walk, we will not let them pass," Mican promised. "If they have a right to be on the streets, then it's our right, too."

Previously, Berkant Cagler, a member of the Istanbul Pride Committee, said that marchers would not be deterred by homophobic groups.

We will not cancel according to their threats," Cagler said. "Otherwise, they will be successful. And their hate and threat will find a legitimate way."

However, the decision to show their pride with a celebration was taken away from Istanbul's LGBT people when the government stepped in and canceled the event at the 11th hour.

The last Pride event to be held in Istanbul was in 2014 and was an unmitigated success, drawing 100,000 people, and one of the largest crowds of LGBT people to ever gather in the Muslim world, according to the AP.

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