Riot police in Turkey fired tear gas and rubber bullets during the country’s annual pride parade on Saturday in an effort to stop the event, the latest in a series of government hostilities against the community LGBTQ.
The Washington Post reported that police battalions were looking for demonstrators and trying to prevent them from assembling on Istiklal Avenue, a shopping and tourist center.
The governor of Istanbul has reportedly refused to provide a permit for the parade, which has been banned for the past seven years after being detained since 2003.
Still, hundreds of people waved rainbow flags as they marched through the Beyoglu neighborhood, the Post reported.
“The rainbow is not a crime, discrimination is,” chanted the protesters, according to the newspaper.
The strong action against the LGBTQ parade comes amid a difficult year for gay and transgender people in Turkey which, according to advocacy groups, has been marked by discrimination from senior officials, including President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄan and the country’s interior minister, the Post reported.
The two officials reportedly blasted LGBTQ people when students protested at a well-known Istanbul university, claiming the LGBTQ community did not exist.
âLGBT people don’t exist. This country is national, spiritual and walks towards the future with these values, âErdoÄan said during an address to members of his party, according to the Post.
The Turkish government also withdrew from the Istanbul Convention earlier this year, the Post reported. The convention is a treaty of the European Union which aims to prevent violence against women.
The government said it was withdrawing its involvement from the treaty because it “normalized” homosexuality, according to the Post.
The governor’s office in the Turkish capital of Ankara announced in 2017 that it was banning public events related to LGBT issues âin order to ensure peace and securityâ.