Istanbul Trans Pride march to go on despite government ban
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Istanbul Trans Pride march to go on despite government ban

City says event canceled in interest of security and public order; gay pride parade last week also nixed

A person waves a rainbow flag in front of Istanbul courthouse on June 19, 2017, in support of eleven LGBT activists who went on trial. (AFP Photo/Ozan Kose)
A person waves a rainbow flag in front of Istanbul courthouse on June 19, 2017, in support of eleven LGBT activists who went on trial. (AFP Photo/Ozan Kose)

ISTANBUL — Transgender rights activists say they will go on with a planned march in Istanbul despite the governor’s ban.

The rights group Istanbul LGBTI, host of the 8th Trans Pride March, said on social media it wouldn’t recognize the ban. The march is to begin at 5 p.m. local time Sunday in central Taksim Square.

The Istanbul governor’s office banned the march late Saturday for the second year in a row. It said “marginal groups” on social media had called for the march and it was being banned to preserve public order and to keep participants and tourists safe.

City officials also urged citizens to ignore calls to participate in the parade and abide by the security forces’ warning.

The Trans Pride march, if held, would have been the eighth edition of the event, which promotes rights for transsexuals in Turkey, but it has suffered crackdowns in recent years.

Turkish riot police officers block roads to Istikjlal avenue for LGBT rights activist (C) as they try to gather for a pride parade, which was banned by the governorship, in Istanbul, on June 25, 2017. (AFP Photo/Bulent Kilic)
Turkish riot police officers block roads to Istikjlal avenue for LGBT rights activist (C) as they try to gather for a pride parade, which was banned by the governorship, in Istanbul, on June 25, 2017. (AFP Photo/Bulent Kilic)

Similarly, the Gay Pride parade had been held annually in Istanbul until 2015 — an event routinely attended by thousands of people before a police crackdown.

Last Sunday, police fired rubber bullets at a group of around 40 activists attempting to hold a gay pride march, an AFP journalist reported, and at least four people were detained.

A plain-clothes police officer kicks a member of a group of LGBT rights activist as Turkish police prevent them from going ahead with a Gay Pride annual parade on June 25, 2017, in Istanbul. (AFP Photo/Bulent Kilic)
A plain-clothes police officer kicks a member of a group of LGBT rights activist as Turkish police prevent them from going ahead with a Gay Pride annual parade on June 25, 2017, in Istanbul. (AFP Photo/Bulent Kilic)

Witnesses said there was a heavy police presence which outnumbered the activists.

The year before, organizers were denied permission to march with the city on the edge over bombings blamed on Islamic State terror group and Kurdish militants, sparking anger from gay rights activists.

Critics have accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of having overseen a creeping Islamization since he came to power, first as prime minister in 2003 and then president in 2014.

But authorities say they are merely acting in the interest of public security.

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