Twitter: Kaos GL
Twitter: Kaos GL

Turkish police disrupted and arrested hundreds of activists during a peaceful Pride gathering in Istanbul.

On 26 June, LGBTQ+ activists attempted to celebrate Pride Month by holding a peaceful march within the city.

However, police in riot gear created blockades in Taksim Square and the surrounding Cihangir neighbourhood in an effort to prevent the gathering from taking place.

Alongside the blockades, public transportation leading into the area was also shut down.

The increased police activity stemmed from local authorities in the Beyoglu district and their ban on Pride Month events during the week of 20-26 June.

In response to the ban, Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee tweeted: “We do not give up, we are not afraid! We will continue our activities in safe places and online.”

Even though the police interference posed numerous setbacks, groups of LGBTQ+ individuals and allies took to the streets with queer-inclusive flags and signs with impactful slogans.

Some of the marchers chanted: “The future is queer. We are here. We are queer. We are not going anywhere.”

Others shouted: “Discrimination is a crime, the rainbow is not.”

Shortly after the gatherings took place, police started to chase and violently break up the crowds – which resulted in over 200 people being arrested and loaded onto buses.

The detained groups also included an array of journalists and news professionals.

AFP’s chief photographer Bülent Kilic, who was arrested during last year’s Pride festivities, was amongst the individuals taken into custody on Sunday as reported by the Associated Press.

According to a report from Euro News, police had already arrested people in bars around the Cihangir area before the small Pride march took place.

Shortly after the horrific incident, Milena Buyum of Amnesty International called for the release of the arrested individuals.

“All those detained solely for their participation in Pride must be released immediately and unconditionally,” Buyum said.

Over the last few years, the Turkish government has banned Pride marches and celebrations from taking place.

The last official march occurred in 2014, and it saw close to 100,000 people campaigning in the streets for equality.

Even though homosexuality is legal in the country, public opinion regarding the LGBTQ+ community has become increasingly conservative – which has resulted in queer people facing more discrimination.