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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Friday, August 17, 2018

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Activists carrying LGBT banners attend Istanbul gay pride, encounter violent police as dozens beaten and arrested

waving rainbow flags and LGBT banners were ban

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ISTANBUL, Turkey - For the third year in a row, authorities in Istanbul banned the gay price parade and despite the ban, thousands of people turned up for the march. > BNN
However, the scene of peaceful activists, waving rainbow flags and LGBT banners soon turned violent as activists were met with riot police who used tear gas to disperse crowds and faced far-right threats.
According to reports, there were more than two dozen arrests, including at least one member of the media, identified as Associated Press journalist Bram Janssen, who was covering the event.
Photos from the event went viral on the social media and showed some of activists being arrested, others being kicked by plain-clothes police, as well as tear gas being deployed on the activists.
Some claimed that the police even fired rubber bullets at the crowd.
The city governor cited safety and public order fears for banning the march for the third year in a row.
However, organisers of the march said in a statement, “We are not afraid, we are here, we are not going to change. Governors, governments, states change … we stay."
It added, “We painted this street in rainbow for 12 years [and] showed the beauty of living and marching together to the whole world. We are here again, this time to show we will fight darkness for our pride.”
Reports noted that police with riot shields and helmets enforced the ban by sealing off entrances to the main Istiklal Street.
This forced activists to gather in various side streets.
Pride organizers said in a statement that a total of 41 people were arrested including 28 activists. 
All the activists were later released.
Pride marches were allowed in Turkey until 2014 and up to 100,000 people attended then.
However, the event was banned in 2015 and again in the past two years after ultra-nationalist Alperen Hearths group issued threats, calling the Pride “immoral.”
While homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, unlike many other Muslim countries, homophobia is seen to be widespread. 
Reports claimed that Istanbul has traditionally been seen as a relative safe haven by members of the gay community in comparison to other countries in the Middle East, including refugees from Syria and Iraq.
The organizers said their statement, “The true reason for the reactions toward a march that took place in peace for 12 years is hate. Our security cannot be provided by imprisoning us behind walls, asking us to hide. Our security will be provided by recognizing us in the constitution, by securing justice, by equality and freedom.”

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