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Turkish police detain 10 for attending Pride march in central Turkey

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Turkish police on Sunday detained 10 people at a Pride march in the central province of Eskişehir despite a ban imposed by the governor’s office on Pride Week activities in the city, the Artı Gerçek news website reported.

Before the event police officers blockaded the area around the Ulus monument, where the march was to take place. Citing the ban by the Eskişehir Governor’s Office, the police announced that they would not allow the Pride march or the release of a press statement by the protestors.

Chanting “You will never walk alone” and “Transgender murders are political,” the protestors were confronted by the riot police, who detained 10 people, including five women.

The Media and Law Association (MLSA) on Monday said on X that six of the detainees were released, while four remain in custody, awaiting their testimony to a prosecutor.

LGBTI+ groups in the past have gone ahead with their plans to hold their marches despite the bans, which sometimes leads to confrontations with the police and detention of the participants.

There have also been instances when the attendees faced criminal charges for “participating in an unlawful assembly” or “failing to disperse despite being warned” and up to three years in prison for taking part in Pride marches.

Amnesty International warned in a statement on May 17 on the occasion of the  International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), that there must be no repeat of the discrimination and violence meted out to Pride participants in Turkey last year.

“As we approach Pride month there must be no repeat of the draconian restrictions, disproportionate violence and hateful official rhetoric that we witnessed last year,” said Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for Europe, Dinushika Dissanayake.

“Instead, authorities should ensure LGBTI Pride marches in Türkiye go ahead safely and without the interference and intimidation of previous years.”

There was widespread use of unnecessary and arbitrary force against peaceful protesters resulting in at least 224 people in 2023 being detained across the country. The detainees included lawyers and journalists as well as people who were not participating in the Pride events.

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

It is common for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other politicians from the AKP to attack LGBTI+ individuals and accuse them of perversion and ruining family values.

Turkey was ranked 48th among 49 countries as regards the human rights of LGBT people, according to the 2023 Rainbow Europe Map published by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)-Europe.

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