Ankara, June 20: Turkish riot police broke up a gay pride parade in Istanbul and arrested 15 supporters, after banning the global event over fears that it would create social unrest during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Authorities used water cannons and rubber bullets to disperse dozens of rainbow-clad gay pride supporters and prevent them from entering the central Taksim Square, where the march was scheduled to take place on Sunday, EFE news reported.
The Istanbul Governor's Office had issued a ban on the gay pride event last week, citing "concerns regarding the security of our citizens, primarily the participants, and public order", according to a statement on the government's website.
It is the second year in a row that authorities have refused to allow the march, a move that came just days before a group of British rock band Radiohead's fans were assaulted by Islamic extremists for drinking alcohol during Ramadan outside a record store to celebrate the release of the band's new album.
Istanbul's LGBTI+Pride Week Committee, which until last year had celebrated the parade annually since 2002, slammed the city government for restricting the march.
"The governor's office has chosen to waste human rights and freedoms rather than take precautions against threats," Hurriyet Daily News quoted the group as saying.
The main LGBT Pride March scheduled for June 26 has also been banned by the Istanbul Governor's Office.