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Cops teargas LGBTQ rally in Istanbul after protests over thug attack on Radiohead fans

The two days of protests and violence came as Istanbul's governor announced said that both Trans Pride and next weekend's Gay Pride celebrations will be banned this year, citing security concerns.
People protests against the ban on a gay pride march, off Istiklal Avenue, central Istanbul's main shopping road, Sunday, June 19, 2016. (Emrah Gurel/AP)

LGBT Pride Week in Istanbul got off to a rocky start on Sunday, when Turkish riot police used rubber bullets and teargas to break up a gathering of about 50 people who had assembled to celebrate Trans Pride in defiance of the government's ban on the event.

More than 300 police officers clad in riot gear and backed up by water cannons were stationed around the square and in side streets, the Associated Press reported.


On Friday, the governor of Istanbul announced bans on both the Trans Pride march and on the larger Gay Pride march, which is slated for next weekend, citing security concerns in the wake of several deadly bombings in the Turkish city over the past year.

Attendees of the banned ?stanbul #TransPride have been rushed by police, causing panic on #MisSokak street
— D8 News (@D8News) June 19, 2016

The organizers of the pride march put out a statement via Facebook condemning the ban as "a flagrant violation of the constitution and law."

Related: 'I Feel Safe': Turkey's First Transgender Shelter Offers a Haven from Abuse

Turkey's Amnesty International office said that 11 people were detained on Sunday.

Trans Pride March & Press Release not allowed by police and crowds dispersed by using force. 11 protestors are detained. — Amnesty Turkey (@aforgutu)June 19, 2016

Trans Pride activists dispersed by police. March not allowed/negotiations continue 4 press release — Amnesty Turkey (@aforgutu)June 19, 2016

The official ban followed promises by ultra-nationalist and conservative groups to "do what is necessary" to stop pride celebrations from taking place.

"We will not allow degenerates to carry out their fantasies on this land, which our ancestors left us by paying a heavy price," said Kursat Mican, head of the Istanbul division of the ultra-nationalist youth group the Alperen Hearths, at a press conference last week. "We are not responsible for what will happen after this point… If you're not taught by experience, you're taught by a beating."


Homosexuality has been legal in Turkey since the mid 19th century, during the Ottoman Empire. Trans individuals have been able to legally change their gender since 1988, and sex-reassignment surgery for people diagnosed with gender dysphoria is legal. However, public perception of sexual orientation and gender can be very conservative, rhetoric from religious hardliners and ultra nationalist groups can be very hateful, and Turkey's LGBT community continues to experience widespread discrimination and even violence.

Last year, Turkish police dispersed revelers at Istanbul's gay pride parade using water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas.

Related: Turkish Police Use Water Cannons, Rubber Bullets, and Tear Gas on Gay Pride Parade

Istanbul's riot police also came out in full force on Saturday after protests erupted over a Friday night incident in which 20 suspected religious hardliners beat up customers and staff at a record store in Istanbul for drinking alcohol and live-streaming Radiohead's new album, a Moon Shaped Pool, during Ramadan.

Breaking: Turkey religious thugs storm @radiohead listening party in Istanbul, smashing up store and beating fans
— Borzou Daragahi (@borzou) June 17, 2016

In a statement, Radiohead condemned the attack on the Velvet IndieGround. "We hope that someday we will be able to look back on such acts of violent intolerance as things of the ancient past."

Riot police dispersed the angry protesters using water cannons and tear gas.

TURKEY - Anti riot police disperse protestors in Istanbul during a demo. against the islamist attack. By — AFP Photo Department (@AFPphoto)June 18, 2016