Istanbul’s annual Pride celebrations have been interrupted by local police who reportedly fired rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons at those attending the parade, the Independent reports.
Istanbul Pride was banned by the government this year—who said the event raised safety and public order concerns after threats were received by the anti-gay, ultra-conservative group, Alperen.
"The march will not be allowed for the safety of our citizens, first and foremost the participants, and tourists who are in the area visiting," the governorship said in a statement.
However the LGBT+ community remained determined to march in defiance of authorities and crowds gathered in Taksim square, chanting and carrying banners that read “Don’t be quiet, shout out, gays exist”.
Lara Ozlen, one of the organisers of the Pride event, told AFP that: “It is obvious that a peaceful march is part of our constitutional right.”
“It's been known for years. Instead of protecting us, to say 'do not march' just because some will be disturbed is undemocratic.”
"For the last two years, the march overlapped with Ramadan,” she added.
“This year it does not. So, that is not an excuse [to prevent it] either. I believe the ban is about not accepting our sexual orientation and it is a reaction to the movement getting stronger.”
Police tried to block entry points to the parade with water cannons and it has been reported that some marchers were sprayed with tear gas, chased by police dogs and fired at with rubber bullets.
Istanbul Pride reports that at least 23 LGBT+ activists were detained by police.