On Sunday, the LGBTIQ+ community in the Muslim-majority city of Istanbul took to the streets as part of the annual Pride parade, despite the fact that Turkish authorities had banned the event for the fifth consecutive year.
The march, which took place close to the popular Istiklal Avenue, was met with violent police officers who used tear gas, dogs, and batons to break up the Pride rally. The parade was banned by the Istanbul governor's office, but police apparently allowed people to gather in a side street for a short-lived moment.
People were embracing the celebrations in full force - waving rainbow flags and raising epic banners in the air. The organizers even read a press statement before police officers dispersed the crowd with tear gas, ultimately blocking the street, according to The Independent.
The press statement was read on Mis Street, where the march took place. In it, the Pride Week Committee said:
"We neither abandon our lives and solidarity, nor collective struggle! We are here! Get used to it - we are not going away!"
Following the statement, the committee said their march will continue "onto each and every street in Taksim."
That's when police launched a violent-filled riot against those taking part in the march. The police attacked the crowds with gas bombs and plastic bullets.
During the police attack, at least five people were detained, according to Kaos GL.
ILGA calls on "Turkish authorities to ensure the right to freedom of peaceful assembly for LGBTI persons"
Istanbul's Pride celebration has been taking place since 2003 and is considered to be the most high-profile event in any Muslim-majority country.
Last year, 11 people had been detained during the Pride march. Human rights group Amnesty International in Turkey called on authorities to release those detained immediately.
Arrests have been made nearly every year since the Pride march became a reality in Turkey.
In 2017, at least 44 people were detained during a march for LGBTIQ+ rights.
"By banning the event, the Turkish authorities have failed to fulfill their positive obligation to guarantee both public security and the freedom of assembly, to which everyone is entitled, including LGBTI persons and other supporters of their rights," Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, said at the time.
In 2017, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said empowering gay people goes "against the values of our nation," according to The Guardian.
Homosexuality in Turkey
Homosexuality is not considered a crime in Turkey, however, there is no law that explicitly prohibits discrimination against an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity. Homosexual activity has been legal in Turkey since its founding in 1923, according to The Washington Post.
However, the crackdown on the LGBTIQ+ community in the country is ongoing. More than 40 "hate murders" against LGBTIQ+ individuals were documented between 2010 and 2014.