Istanbul Pride Week picnic met with police intervention

Istanbul police on Tuesday detained one person in the city’s Maçka Park, where the district Governor's Office had banned a picnic as part of Pride Week, Diken news site reported on Tuesday.

Police blocked access to the park in Şişli district and visitors were directed to the back entrance, where the police scanned for rainbow flags and LGBTI visuals, banning their access on the premises,  Artı Gerçek news site reported.

Video footage shared on Twitter showed police forcibly removing people from the park.

Visitors who asked why they could not enter the park from the main entrance were simply told it was banned, according to Artı Gerçek.

The police told the crowds that formed to disperse or face police intervention, it said.

Istanbul’s gay pride parades, which attracted thousands of people from across the region, have been banned since 2014. 

Turkey ranks the second worst country in the European Union for LGBT people, according to the 2021 “Rainbow Europe” ranking compiled by Brussels-based NGO advocating for LGBT rights, ILGA-Europe.

The picnic had originally been slated to take place at Istanbul’s  Princes' Islands, Umut Rışvanlı, a member of the Pride Week Committee, told news site Bianet.

"We moved this event to Maçka Park. The Security Director apparently threatened the business owner there. He said that he would bring riot police teams there,’’ Rışvanlı said.

Princes’ Islands police had earlier this week banned the scheduled LGBTI picnic.

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