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LGBTQ activists detained during Istanbul Pride march being released

Two women hold up a placard reading: ‘I live free. Who’s the fool who will put me in chains? I would be shocked’ during the LGBTQ Pride March in Istanbul (AP)
Two women hold up a placard reading: ‘I live free. Who’s the fool who will put me in chains? I would be shocked’ during the LGBTQ Pride March in Istanbul (AP)

Istanbul’s LGBTQ Pride organisers have said more than 360 people were detained by police on Sunday following a ban on all Pride events.

Kaos GL, a leading LGBTQ rights association, said all those who were detained are being freed on Monday after giving their police statement and undergoing health checks. Some were released overnight.

District governors in the two popular Istanbul districts of Beyoglu and Kadikoy outlawed all LGBTQ events last week, saying the ban would ensure safety, peace and prevent crime.

Turkey Pride March
People shout slogans next to Turkish police officers during the LGBTQ Pride March in Istanbul, (AP)

Numerous streets and subway stations were closed off by police on Sunday to stop protesters from gathering. Police also pushed and detained journalists.

Amnesty Turkey said the ban was “extremely harsh” and “arbitrary”.

The rights group’s Turkey campaigner, Milena Buyum, tweeted that the detained individuals were “deprived of their liberty simple bc they were exercising their rights” to freedom of expression and assembly.

Turkey Pride March
A woman holds up a rainbow flag during the event (AP)

Turkish authorities allowed Pride marches to take place for more than a decade starting in 2003, when Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan served as prime minister.

Up to 100,000 people attended Istanbul Pride in 2014.

But in 2015, police dispersed crowds using tear gas and water cannon after a last-minute ban.

The march has been banned ever since and top Turkish officials have called LGBTQ people “perverts” who aim to hurt traditional family values.