Hundreds of LGBTI+ campaigners march in banned Istanbul pride parade

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Hundreds of people defied a Turkish government ban to take part in a Pride Parade in Istanbul on Sunday before being dispersed by police.

Campaigners from the gay and transgender communities gathered in the city center, brandishing rainbow flags, singing, dancing and giving speeches for around 40 minutes before police cleared the area.

There were reports of tear gas being used on some marchers, according to Amnesty Turkey. The human-rights group added that several people were detained at the event.

Organizers of this year’s parade said the event was banned by Turkish authorities. CNN contacted Istanbul’s Governor’s Office, which did not have a statement regarding the march.

It’s the fourth year in a row that the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex (LGBTI) march is believed to have been banned. In comparison to previous years when campaigners were not allowed to gather, on Sunday they were able to march, raise flags and dance.

The last time the pride parade was officially allowed, in 2014, an estimated 90,000 people marched through the city center, according to Amnesty International.

The vast crowd was in stark contrast to the following year when the march was banned for the first time, seen by some as the beginning of a recent crackdown on civil liberties in Turkey.

Just a few hundred people took part in the 2015 march, which authorities banned because it coincided with the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, and there were concerns surrounding threats from ultranationalist Islamist groups.

Similarly, parades in 2016 and 2017 were also banned for these reasons.

Organizers had hoped this year’s event — which was held after Ramadan — would be allowed. Ramadan or not, Turkish authorities still refused to allow the march.

Although homosexuality has been legal in Turkey since 1923, the country has one of the worst records of human-rights violations against LGBTI+ people in Europe, and Turkey’s LGBTI+ community has been increasingly vocal about violence against its members.