A demonstrator holds a rainbow flag in front of police officers during a march as people try to gather for a pride parade, which was banned by local authorities, in central Istanbul, Turkey June 26, 2022. REUTERS/Dilara Senkaya

According to the organizers, more than 200 people were arrested at a protest for the rights of queer people in the Turkish metropolis of Istanbul. Police cordoned off a wide area of ​​the central Cihangir district on Sunday, preventing people from gathering.

Security forces surrounded people with rainbow flags and other symbols of sexual and gender diversity and took them into custody before the protest began. Authorities had previously banned the demonstration citing security concerns.

Despite the massive police presence, numerous people gathered in the side streets and waved rainbow flags. Local residents banged on pots and pans in protest at the arrests.

Under the motto “Resistance”, various associations had called for the parade entitled “March of Pride”. Among other things, they criticized an increasing LGBTQ-hostile climate in the country. In addition to the march, other events as part of the so-called “Pride Week” were also banned. Berlin-based activist Liana Georgi, who lives in Istanbul, told the dpa news agency that she had perceived the situation as “scary” and more tense than in previous years. The police literally “hunted” the demonstrators. “But I find it absolutely admirable how people still manage to get together and demonstrate peacefully,” said Georgi.

The Pride Parade in the Turkish metropolis could take place undisturbed for more than ten years with steadily growing numbers of participants. The event was banned for the first time in 2015 and was also banned in the following years.

“Anyone arrested solely for taking part in the Pride march must be released immediately and unconditionally,” Amnesty International’s Milena Buyum said. From the early evening, the first arrested were released.