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Istanbul Pride march to go on despite governor's ban
26 June 2017, 08:12 | Laverne Osborne
Istanbul: Police Use Rubber Bullets, Dogs to Break Up Banned Gay Pride March
The celebratory tone of gay pride marches from San Francisco to Istanbul on Sunday were undergirded by an atmosphere of political expression and protest.
Organizers of the 2017 Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride had vowed to march in central Taksim Square, using a Turkish hashtag for "we march", despite the ban on gay pride observances ordered by the Istanbul governor's office for the third year in a row.
Police prevented pro-LGBT groups from entering the Istiklal Avenue area on Sunday and turned back people who they deemed were associated with the march.
Police used tear gas to disperse the crowds and activists said plastic bullets were also used. "We will not allow them to walk".
Eleven activists went on trial in Istanbul this week for defying last year's ban on the Gay Pride march, but they were all acquitted. The statement also said the governor's office had not received a valid parade application, a claim rejected by organizers.
"Pride is for gay people in general", Dias said.
The governor's ban cited safety concerns and "serious reactions by different segments of society" as several nationalist and religious groups called for the march's cancellation.
In Minneapolis, organizers of Sunday's Twin Cities Pride Parade initially asked the police department to limit its participation, with the chairwoman saying the sight of uniformed officers could foster "angst and tension and the feeling of unrest" after a suburban officer's acquittal this month in the deadly shooting of Philando Castile, a black man, during a traffic stop.
'The fact that the existing political power is not making the necessary changes in the constitution, and the fact that they have discourse against us might encourage people who are already transphobic, ' said Seyhan Arman, a 37-year-old transgender woman and performer.
LGBT activists have long lobbied unsuccessfully to have sexual orientation and gender identity covered by Turkish laws protecting civil rights and prohibiting hate speech.
Homosexuality has been legal in Turkey throughout the period of the modern republic but gay people in Turkey regularly complain of harassment and abuse.
"We have to be as visible as possible", said Reyes, wearing a silver body suit and gray and purple headpiece decorated with rhinestones.
March organizers have taken some steps to address the criticisms about diversity. Up to 100,000 people attended Istanbul Pride in 2014.
Faced with armed police and water-cannon trucks, the marchers had no chance, our correspondent says.
Last year, with the city on edge after bombings blamed on the Islamic State group and Kurdish militants, organisers were denied permission to march.
This year, the parade coincided with the first day of Eid, the festival marking the end of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
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