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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 24, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 26
Turkish police break up Trans Pride march
Section One
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Turkish police break up Trans Pride march

By Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Turkish Police in Istanbul set up barricades in Taksim Square to prevent a Trans Pride rally from gathering on June 19, then fired teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

Taksim Square is the traditional meeting place for protest marches and was the scene of anti-government riots in 2013.

The Istanbul governor's office said the Trans Pride rally was banned 'for the safety of our citizens, first and foremost the participants, and for public order.'

On June 14, an ultra-right youth group called Alperen Ocaklan warned Tirkish officials it would do 'what is needed' to stop the event from taking place.

'Dear state officials,' the group said in a statement, 'do not make us deal with these [people]. Either you do what is needed or we will do it. We are ready to take any risks; we will directly prevent the march from happening.'

In addition to Trans Pride, the Istanbul Pride march, scheduled for June 26, was also banned by authorities, because of supposed security threats and because it falls during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

On June 17, a right-wing gang attacked a music store in Istanbul where people had gathered to listen to Radiohead's new album, charging that people were profaning Ramadan by drinking alcohol.

'Football fans can rally in this country whenever they want,' Ebru Kiranci, a spokesperson for the Lambdaistanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association, said.

'We were going to do a peaceful activity. [The] holy month of Ramadan is an excuse. If you are going to respect Ramadan, respect us too. The heterosexuals think it's too much for us, only two hours in 365 days.'

Pride organizer Ă–mer Akpinar told the Independent newspaper that 'This [police action] is a continuation of the story that started last year when the police attacked gay activists.'

The 2015 Istanbul Pride march was also broken up by police.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his conservative Justice and Development party have been opponents of the country's LGBT community. Critics accuse Erdogan of trying to create an authoritarian state.

According to Akpinar, the LGBT community is divided between those who want to go ahead with the scheduled Pride march, and those who are afraid of violence.

'The LGBT community in Turkey is a little divided about whether people should march or not,' he said.

'It's not only about this latest threat of ultra-nationalists who might attack people, but if you look at the recent history of Turkey, we've had so many bombings and attacks.

'So people are afraid it might be an occasion for IS or another terrorist group to kill thousands of people.'

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