Turkish police have resorted to using tear gas and rubber bullets to break up groups of activists promoting gay and transgender rights. The clash happened during a Pride event that was held despite being banned for a fifth year.
The rally on a side street to Istanbul’s main pedestrian avenue drew several hundred people, who cheered and waved rainbow flags.
Istanbul Pride organizers said the Istanbul governor’s office banned the march from central Taksim district as well as a square designated for demonstrations west of the city.
Police allowed representatives to make a short statement to the media before officers dispersed the crowd with tear gas and rubber bullets, blocking the street.
Police dogs were also at the scene.
The Istanbul Pride group said it would continue activism to get sexual orientation and gender identity recognized in Turkish laws.
Amnesty International had urged Turkey to lift the “arbitrary ban” on the march.It said authorities rejected all suggested locations in the city by deeming the LGBTQ communities “socially objectionable.”
Istanbul had up to 100,000 people attend a pride march in 2014, but police have blocked such marches since.
Though homosexuality has been legal in Turkey for decades, rights groups say discrimination is widespread.The new mayor of Istanbul told a group of international journalists Friday that any group should be free to demonstrate as long as protests do not disturb the peace. Ekrem Imamoglu said he’d discuss the reasons for the ban with relevant authorities.