ISTANBUL, Turkey: Turkish police detained dozens of people after local authorities banned Istanbul's annual Pride parade from going ahead this year, and prevented hundreds of people from gathering for the event.
Previously, thousands attended Pride marches on Istanbul's main Istiklal Avenue. However, the government of President Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-influenced AK Party has toughened its stance on LGBTQ rights.
While homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, hostility against members of the LGBTQ community has become widespread and the police crackdown on parades has increased in recent years.
This weekend, police in riot gear prevented access to Taksim Square, blockaded many streets and blocked public transportation in the nearby Cihangir neighborhood, where people attempted to gather.
Stating that Pride parades could lead to public unrest due to society's sensitivities, local authorities in the Beyoglu district banned all Pride Week events between 20th to 26th June.
The Istanbul Bar Association, however, said peaceful demonstrations cannot be banned.
Before police dispersed and chased them through the streets, forcibly detaining some, several people carrying rainbow and transgender flags gathered briefly and chanted slogans.
Last year, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu labeled some university students "LGBT deviants," while Erdogan praised his party's youth wing for not being "LGBT youth."
Some students from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara were prosecuted for attending Pride marches in universities, though they were later acquitted.
A trial continues against Bogazici University students accused of creating an image that combined Islamic imagery and rainbow flags displayed during an art exhibition on campus in Istanbul.