Istanbul bans annual gay pride march planned for city centre

Istanbul's gay pride march planned for later this month was banned Friday by the provincial governor, who cited security concerns, drawing quick condemnation from activists in Turkey.

The ban on the annual parade comes just days after the attack on a gay night club in the US city of Orlando, Florida, by a lone-gunman who had pledged allegience to Islamic State.

In Turkey, a far-right nationalist group had threatened this year's march, which had been scheduled for June 26, along Istanbul's main Istaklal high street, near Taksim Square. Transgender pride events, set to take place this Sunday June 19, were also banned.

Last year's march was broken up by riot police using tear gas and water cannons, much to the surprise of tens of thousands of people who attended the normally peaceful fixture that has been ongoing since 2003. Tens of thousands of people have been in attendance in recent years.

Evrensel newspaper quoted activists as saying they planned to defy the ban.

On the event's official Facebook page, organizers said they viewed the ban as a "blatant violation" of their constitutional rights, and announced plans to fight the measure through the courts.

They insisted the state's responsibility was to provide security if there were concerns, rather than blocking the event.

Human rights and gay rights activists expressed criticism of the governor's decision on social media, some using the hashtag #AskKazanacak (#LoveWins).

Murat Cekic, an activist, tweeted: "Yet another attack on lgbti rights in Turkey." He was using an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexuals and transgenders and/or intersex.

The Social Policy Research organization (SPoD), an advocacy group, called for people to "stand by us against the ones who try to intimidate us with hate speech and threats," the Bianet platform reported after the march was threatened.

"It is clear that homophobia and transphobia prejudices are globally, deeply and systemically rooted in our societies. Naturally, the combat against them should also be," said Kaos GL, an activist group, in a statement in reference to the Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre, which left 49 people dead.

Last update: Fri, 17/06/2016 - 17:09

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