Turkey Bans Istanbul Gay Pride Due to ‘security fears’

IMG_1658Authorities in the Turkish city of Istanbul have banned an annual gay pride march planned for later this month, citing security and public order fears.

The ban, which was angrily denounced by the Istanbul pride organisers, came after ultra-nationalist and conservative groups said they would not allow “degenerates” to hold such events on Turkish soil.

The Istanbul governor’s office said in a statement on Friday that the June 26 march had been banned out of concern for public order and safeguarding security.

The order means anyone taking part in the parade in defiance of the authorities risks facing intervention by the security forces.

In recent days, hardline groups had vowed to do “what is necessary” to stop Istanbul’s gay pride march.

“Dear state officials, do not make us deal with these. Either you do what is needed or we will do it,” Kurşat Mican, Istanbul’s head of Alperen Hearths, the youth group loyal to the far-nationalist Great Union Party, told reporters.

Until 2015, the gay pride march had been held on 12 occasions largely without incident, growing into the largest such event in a Muslim country with thousands taking part in a celebration of diversity.

Last year, however, the parade was banned by the governorship hours before the event. Soon after, it was shut down through police intervention for the first time in its 13-year history.