ISTANBUL ( Associated Press) – Dozens of people were detained in central Istanbul after city officials banned gay pride marches, organizers said on Sunday.
Turkey’s largest city has banned marches since 2015, but crowds still gather each year to mark the end of Gay Pride Month. Organizers say the ban is illegal.
“We will not give up, we are not afraid! We will continue our activities in safe places and on the Internet,” the LGBTI+ March Committee said via Twitter.
Kaos GL, a leading LGBTQ organization, said 52 people were detained by police shortly before the march began. The organizing committee later raised the figure to over 100.
Neither the police nor the local government has reported this.
Photos on social media show people being searched and put into buses, including at least one photojournalist. Disc Basin—The Journalists’ Association indicated that “many” people had been beaten up by the police.
Residents of the area thrashed pots and pans from balconies and windows to show solidarity with the protesters, while a police helicopter flew over the spot.
There were metal fences and riot police at Taksim Square and Istiklal Avenue in Beyoglu district, which was a shopping and tourist area and also a frequent meeting place for protesters.
A few hours before the start of the march, the metro was closed in the area.
Turkey was one of the first few Muslim-majority countries to allow gay pride parades. The first was in 2003 after the party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power.
In recent years, the government has cracked down on public events that are inconsistent with its conservative ideology. Police often suppress incidents of gay pride with tear gas or shrapnel.
Activists have also been threatened by counter-demonstrations by people claiming to be defenders of “Turkish values”.