Turkish police clash with LGBTQ supporters and news photographer at banned Istanbul Pride march – with officers arresting ‘more than 100 people’ according to organisers

  • The Pride march in Istanbul has been banned since 2015 by city authorities
  • But each year LGBT+ protesters defy ban and this year riot police were called in 
  • Officers arrested ‘more than 100 people’ and also clashed with photographer 

More than 100 people have been arrested in Turkey in defiance of the ban on an LGBTQ Pride march, its organisers have said. 

In the latest clash between the gay community in Istanbul and police, LGBT+ supporters and a news photographer were detained by officers dressed in riot gear today. 

Marchers were heading towards Beyoglu district, the heart of the city’s shopping and tourism sectors, when riot police and metal fences prevented them from entering Taksim Square, where protestors traditional gather. 

Some protesters fled from officers, while others were said to have beaten, and forcibly detained before being loaded them on to buses.

Local residents were also heard and seen banging pots and pans from their windows and balconies in a show of support for the marchers as a police helicopter circled overhead.  

Despite the continued crackdown and increased hostility shown by Turkish authorities, the LGBT+ community have marched every year in Istanbul since their Pride March was banned – which they claim is unlawful – in 2015. 

A Turkish policeman is seen today detaining a female demonstrator during a Pride march in Istanbul

Police officers seen preventing journalists to film and take pictures of activists detained while trying to march in a pride parade, which was banned by local authorities, in central Istanbul

Organisers and the Istanbul Bar Association say that peaceful demonstrations like this one cannot be banned.

During the protest today, one group chanted: ‘Discrimination is a crime, the rainbow is not’. 

Kaos GL, a prominent LGBTQ group, said that shortly before the march’s 5pm start police detained 52 people. The Pride Week Committee later said more than 100 had been arrested.

Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee said on Twitter: ‘We do not give up, we are not afraid. We will continue our activities in safe places and online.’ 

Turkish police are seen talking with a woman who has her hands out stretched during the Pride march 

LGBT+ people and supporters are seen carrying a Pride flag while march in Istanbul 

The march came after local authorities in the Beyoglu district banned all Pride Week events between June 20-26, saying they could lead to public unrest due to society’s sensitivities. 

There was no immediate word on the number of arrests from the police or the governor’s office. 

Images on social media showed people being searched and loaded on to buses, including at least one news photographer as journalists’ union DISK Basin-Is said today that ‘many’ people were beaten by police.

Turkish photojournalist Bulent Kilic, employed by the Agence France-Press (AFP), was pictured being detained during the march by officers in front of a bus. 

This was the second time police have taken action against Mr Kilic who was detained during 2021 Pride marches in Istanbul along with 25 other people. 

Turkish police block the march of members and supporters of the LGBT community while some people are seen to fall on the ground

A Police officer (left) throws a rainbow flag in a dustbin as activists try to march in a pride parade. Turkish photojournalist Bulent Kilic (right) is detained during the LGBTQ Pride March in Istanbul

A Turkish policeman leads a female demonstrator away in handcuffs during the Pride march

A participant faces riot policemen wearing a rainbow flag during a Pride march in Istanbul

Turkey, one of the few Muslim-majority countries to allow Pride marches, had held the events since 2003, when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party came to power.

Homosexual acts are not illegal in Turkey but the Islamic country has not made same-sex marriage legal and its conservative government has been increasingly hostile to groups it does not see as representing its religious values.  

Large numbers of arrests and the use of tear gas and plastic pellets by police have accompanied some Pride events.

Counter-demonstrations by nationalists and Islamists, who claim the LGBTQ community is a danger to ‘Turkish values,’ have also threatened marchers.

People are seen to run as riot police are seen in the background during the march

Turkish police blocks the Pride march as they clash with protesters in Istanbul 

Participants kiss holding a placard during a Pride march in Istanbul

Last year Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu labeled some university students ‘LGBT deviants’, while Erdogan praised his party’s youth wing for not being ‘LGBT youth’.

There have been prosecutions of students from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara over Pride marches but they were acquitted.

While a trial against Istanbul’s Bogazici University students over an image that combined Islamic imagery and rainbow flags displayed during an art exhibition on campus is ongoing.

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