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10 briefly detained in western Turkey for protesting anti-LGBT public ad

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Turkish police on Tuesday intervened in a demonstration in İzmir protesting the broadcast of an anti-LGBT public ad on TV stations, briefly detaining 10 participants, the Bianet news website reported.

The protestors were members of the pro-LGBT Renklerin Direnişi (Resistance of the Colors) group. They wanted to stage their demonstration in front of the İzmir office of the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) against its recent decision approving the broadcast of an anti-LGBT public advertisement by an İstanbul-based association working to promote family values.

In a move that sparked outrage among the LGBT community, the board with a majority of votes last week approved the broadcast of a public advertisement for an event titled “Stop LGBT propaganda,” organized by the İstanbul Family Foundation.

The public advertisement promotes this event, to be held in İstanbul’s Saraçhane neighborhood on Sept. 17, which calls for a ban on LGBT propaganda “for our children, families and humanity.”

The police used force to disperse the protestors in front of the Pasaport Ferry Terminal in Konak and took them to a police station. The detainees were released from custody Tuesday evening.

The İzmir Governor’s Office had banned the pro-LGBT protest, citing public safety concerns. The office said protestors act “contrary to morality” during such protests, which are likely to attract attacks from radical groups or people with opposing views and threaten public safety.

Following their release, the protestors made a statement accusing the police of using disproportionate force against them. They said they would continue to fight for LGBT rights despite efforts to stop them.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, but homophobia is widespread. After a spectacular Pride March in İstanbul drew 100,000 people in 2014, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) government responded by banning future events in the city, citing security concerns.

It is common for Erdoğan and other politicians from the AKP to attack LGBT individuals and accuse them of perversion and ruining family values. He also made anti-LGBT propaganda a central part of his re-election campaign in May.

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