Turkish police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at participants gathered for a Pride parade in Istanbul on Saturday.
Dramatic video captured by Reuters and other media outlets shows police, some armed with weapons and many with riot shields, forcibly shoving participants. One video shows police detaining a man, identified as Agence-France Presse (AFP) reporter Bülent Kiliç, by pinning him down to the street.
A reporter was violently detained by police on Saturday while covering Istanbul’s Pride March. The Turkish government has banned the march since 2014, but hundreds still took to the streets in defiance. pic.twitter.com/oiUnQlNH3q
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 27, 2021
Pride has been celebrated in Istanbul since the early 2000s, but the parade has been banned in recent years under the increasing authoritarian rule of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Although the governor of Istanbul refused to grant a permit for this year’s parade, demonstrators gathered in the Beyoglu district, playing “cat and mouse” with authorities in the narrow side streets while chanting, “Rainbow is not a crime — discrimination is,” the Washington Post reports.
— Kareem Fahim (@kfahim) June 26, 2021
Earlier this year, Turkey was criticized by human rights groups after withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention, which was designed to combat gendered and domestic violence. In a statement released by the Turkish government, and obtained by BBC News, it withdrew because the convention “was hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalize homosexuality — which is incompatible with Turkey’s social and family values.”
For years, Turkey has been trying to gain access into the European Union, although its membership has stalled as a result of increasing human rights abuses.
Saturday’s crackdown on Pride in Istanbul follows ongoing tensions between the European Union countries over LGBTQ+ rights. Earlier this month, EU member Hungary, which has clamped down on LGBTQ+ rights under its right-wing leadership, banned showing LGBTQ+-related content to children. Other European leaders have openly criticized the decision, and the EU has taken the first step toward legal action against Hungary.