Pride in Istanbul marched on — despite tear gas, rubber bullets, and arrests.
For the fourth year in a row, the governor's office of the Turkish city had banned the event, ostensibly for security reasons. Officials told organizers the city "could not take steps to secure their safety and did not find it appropriate for the Pride Walk to take place," according to a statement from Istanbul LGBT+ Pride Week on Facebook.
Despite the ban, around 1,000 people showed up Sunday to Mis Sokak, a street near Taksim Square, the famous heart of Istanbul. There, activists unfurled rainbow banners and read a media statement.
"The governor cited the excuse of security in its decision to ban the march and in one word, this is comical. Our marches went on peacefully without being banned for 13 years," organizers said in a press release, reports Agence France-Presse.
"We LGBTI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) are here with our pride despite all vain attempts to prevent us and we do not recognize this ban."
Despite the ban and 100s of police with dogs and tear gas chasing spontaneous assemblies, crowds came out to celebrate the #IstanbulPride 2018 and outwitted the authorities. The 11 detained should be released immediately. pic.twitter.com/Du7CArVeuy
— Andrew Gardner (@andrewegardner) July 1, 2018
Gay Star News reports that organizers reached a last-minute agreement with authorities to let the parade proceed as long as it was confined to one street.
However, there were skirmishes. On Twitter, Amnesty International reported a heavy police presence. Tear gas and rubber bullets were used on some protesters, and 11 were detained. The international human rights group is calling for their release.
Istanbul Pride is one of the world's most visible LGBT demonstrations in a predominantly Muslim nation. Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, but LGBT people face considerable discrimination, societal stigma, and legal challenges.