Turkish riot police dispersed a Gay Pride event on Sunday using tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets.
According to Hurriyet Daily News, the 13th Istanbul LGBTi Pride Parade was initially approved to take place but then unexpectedly banned by the Istanbul Governor’s Office, which cited the ongoing Muslim holy month of Ramadan as the reason for the cancellation.
Thousands of people had gathered at the event in Istanbul’s Istiklal Street and began to chant slogans denouncing the “fascism” of the regime under the Islamic-conservative President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after which police moved in.
There were no initial reports of injuries or arrests during the clashes.
US pop artist Lady Gaga posted a message on her Twitter account, apparently directed at the Governor of Istanbul, Huseyin Avni Mutlu, calling on him to end the violence and let the march continue.
“Governor! Set an example for people to celebrate both Ramadan and Pride in PEACE, instead of dividing with violence!” she wrote.
Governor! Set an example for people to celebrate both Ramadan and Pride in PEACE, instead of dividing with violence! #OnurYuerueyuesue
— xoxo, Gaga (@ladygaga) June 28, 2015
The 2014 Gay Pride event in Istanbul, which also fell during Ramadan, was held without incident.
— David Lepeska (@dlepeska) June 28, 2015
Images posted to social media websites showed demonstrators facing off against police who used riot-dispersal methods against the crowds.
The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which became the fourth-largest party in the parliament with 13% of the vote, posted a message to its Twitter feed: “We can overcome prejudices, hatred and violence only with a culture of equal and free life.”
We can overcome prejudices, hatred and violence only with a culture of equal and free life. pic.twitter.com/JuXTToxNz2
— HDP English (@HDPenglish) June 28, 2015
Earlier this month, Erdogan’s ruling AKP Justice and Development Party failed to win an absolute majority in elections and was forced to rely on forming a coalition.