Turkish police on Sunday dispersed a crowd gathered for the Pride Parade in Istanbul and arrested several people, including journalists.
Even before the demonstrations began, riot police raided the Cihangir district near Taksim, arresting “random” people, including an AFP photographer, the news agency reported.
Organisers tweeted that more than 200 Pride attendees and LGBTQ activists had been arrested and that police had refused to allow detainees access to their lawyers.
Bülent Kilic, an award-winning veteran photographer with experience in conflict zones, was seen handcuffed behind his back, his shirt torn off and taken to a police van along with others.
He was arrested after authorities imposed a seven-day ban on gatherings in “open and closed spaces” until Sunday to stop the Pride march.
Ignoring the police, hundreds of protesters marched to the rally carrying rainbow flags.
“The future is queer,” they chanted. “We are here. We are queer. We are not going anywhere.”
In early June, Turkish police in Istanbul arrested 11 LGBTQ+ activists who had gathered to celebrate the start of Pride Month. Activists claimed to have published pictures of “torture” and heavily bruised wrists and legs.
However, on Sunday hundreds of demonstrators gathered waving rainbow flags on the street adjacent to the famous Taksim Square, which is entirely closed to the public.
After a spectacular march of over 100,000 people in Istanbul in 2014, Turkish authorities have officially banned it year after year for security reasons.
Last year, police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd and arrested hundreds of people protesting the ban. The incident sparked protests in the Mediterranean country, including the capital Ankara.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised the country’s LGBTQ+ activists in the past, likening them to vandals in 2021.