Europe

Turkey LGBT: Scuffles at banned Istanbul transgender event

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe BBC's Mark Lowen describes Istanbul's "simmering tensions"

Turkish riot police have fired tear gas and plastic bullets after transgender rights activists gathered in Istanbul in defiance of a ban on marching.

Several dozen activists turned up and were surrounded by police, after which scuffles began, with one man reportedly tearing up a gay rights banner.

The march was banned in order to "safeguard security and public order".

Istanbul Pride, which has occurred annually since 2003 and was due to be held on 26 June, was also prohibited.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey - unlike in many Arab countries - but analysts say homophobia remains widespread.

It comes after suspected Islamists attacked people listening to a rock album in an Istanbul record store on Friday evening for drinking alcohol and listening to music during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Riot police dispersed a protest against the attack on Saturday evening.

At last year's Istanbul Pride, police used water cannon and tear gas to break up the crowd.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The colourful carnival-like event ended in scuffles
Image copyright Reuters
Image copyright Reuters
Image copyright AP
Image caption A gay rights flag was draped down the side of the US consulate building in Istanbul

The order banning this year's marches means anyone taking part in either event risks facing intervention by the security forces.

Organisers of Istanbul Pride denounced the ban as a "flagrant violation of the constitution and the law".

They said the city authorities were failing in their duty to protect the rights of citizens to exercise their rights, and that they would launch legal action.

Security in the city is already tight after bombings in recent months blamed on so-called Islamic State and Kurdish militants.

An ultra-nationalist youth group, the Alperen Hearths, called those planning to participate in the gay pride event immoral and said it would "stop the march" if it went ahead.

Related Topics

More on this story