Turkish police briefly detain 70 students participating in Pride march

Turkish police on Friday intervened in a Pride march held at Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University, briefly detaining at least 70 students participating in the protest, Evrensel newspaper reported.

Students participating the prestigious university’s ninth Pride March were surrounded by riot police, and tens waving rainbow flags and urging equality for the LGBTI community were taken into custody overnight, it said. 

The group was released in the early morning hours of Saturday following questioning at a police department and medical examinations, according to Evrensel.

"We were treated in a way that does not befit human dignity,’’ the newspaper cited a volunteer with the event as saying. "They came down us with a phobia-filled hatred.’’

Being LGBT has never been criminalised under the modern Turkish republic, but LGBT-focused events have been banned in the country since 2015, after the Istanbul Pride attracted some 100,000 participants in 2014.

The country ranked the second worst country in the European Union for LGBT people, scoring only above Azerbaijan, according the 2022 “Rainbow Europe” ranking compiled by Brussels-based NGO advocating for LGBT rights, ILGA-Europe.

Boğaziçi made international headlines last year, when the government ordered a months-long police crackdown on students protesting the appointment of a government-loyalist rector. Ankara accused protest organisers of acting like “terrorists. ’More than 150 people were arrested during protests.

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