June 26, 2016 at 7:27 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Activists arrested for challenging Istanbul Pride march ban

Istanbul police on June 26, 2016, arrested at least 19 people who challenged the city's ban on an LGBT Pride march.

Istanbul police on June 26, 2016, arrested at least 19 people who challenged the city’s ban on an LGBT Pride march.

Turkish police on Sunday detained at least 19 people who challenged the decision to ban an Istanbul Pride march.

Gay German MP Volker Beck and Terry Reintke, a German member of the European Parliament, were among those who were taken into custody as they tried to read a statement from the LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee, the group that organized the march.

The Associated Press reported that police used tear gas and rubber bullets against the activists who had gathered in Istanbul’s Tünel Square. The LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee said that activists left the area and were able to read the statement “at safe locations.”

“Pride marches are among the biggest, multi-voiced, and mass demonstrations that this country has witnessed,” reads the statement. “In our marches, we stand up to this dark time that is our share in world history, with our love and desire.”

“We defend peace instead of war, courage instead of fear, and all who are oppressed,” it adds. “We show that a different world, sexuality, body and life is possible.”

The State Department on Monday told the Washington Blade it is “concerned by reports of detentions and the use of tear gas at this weekend’s Pride events in Istanbul.”

“The United States strongly supports the right of Turkish citizens, including LGBTI individuals, to assemble peacefully and express themselves freely without fear of arrest, violence, or retribution,” it said.

Istanbul’s first Pride march took place in 2003.

Istanbul Gov. Vasip Sahin earlier this month banned this year’s Pride march and a transgender rights march that was to have taken place on June 19, citing security concerns.

Police on June 19 used tear gas and rubber pellets against activists who tried to stage the trans rights march in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. Turkish police two days earlier arrested three suspected members of the so-called Islamic State who reportedly planned to attack the event.

The LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee last June said Istanbul authorities banned the Pride parade “at the last minute” because of Ramadan. Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons against those who took part.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • Well, all you can say is that at least the Turkish police arrested the Islamic terrorists who planned to attack the event. In Russia, they just turn a blind eye to the social terrorists who attack GLBT.

  • Me and my partner are looking forward to attending this years Gaza Pride in July. We will then travel to the West Bank for Palestinian pride.

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