Istanbul Pride march must go ahead - Amnesty

U.S. rights watchdog Amnesty International has launched a campaign urging Turkish authorities to allow Istanbul’s LGBTI community to hold their annual pride parade later this month.

Istanbul’s LGBTI people enjoyed a lively, colourful parade on the city’s main pedestrian thoroughfare every June 30 until 2014, after which authorities banned the event.

“This year, their planned march on 30 June must be allowed to go ahead and be protected because celebrating Pride is a right that cannot be taken away by unlawful, arbitrary and discriminatory decisions by the authorities,” said Amnesty.

More than 90,000 people attended the 2014 event, which celebrated love, diversity and human rights on Istanbul’s busy Istiklal Avenue, according to Amnesty.

Last year, activists were told at the last minute that they could gather in a small side street, surrounded by riot police, who after an hour dispersed the peaceful gathering with force and teargas.

“Time and again, authorities in Turkey are trampling over rights guaranteed under Turkey’s own laws as well as international conventions that the country has signed up to,” said Amnesty. “It is time for LGBTI people in Turkey and their allies to start celebrating Pride again. And they need our support now more than ever.”

Last year, Human Rights Watch called on Turkish authorities not to ban the event.

Amnesty urged supporters this year to stand with Turkey’s LGBTI community and email Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya demanding that Istanbul Pride be held safely and without restriction.