Rubber bullets and pepper spray have been used by local police to shut-down and disperse defiant members of Turkey’s Rainbow community following the banning of Istanbul Pride.

The pride event which was refused a permit due to local police claiming that they “could not take steps to secure their safety and did not find it appropriate for the pride walk to take place,” has now been banned for the four years in a row.

Despite the banning, hundreds of people ignored the ban, gathering on or around Istiklal Avenue near Taksim Square, where Istanbul Pride has traditionally been held.


In response to the gathering, local police attempted to stop participants by closing off streets before eventually agreeing to allow activists a short time to meet in order to read out a statement.

The protesters unfurled a large rainbow flag and danced, sang, and chanted, “We don’t obey, we don’t shut up, we are not afraid” and “Love! Freedom! No Hatred!”

Following the chanting, officers in riot gear arrived to disperse the group with rubber bullets, dogs, and pepper spray, with reports indicating that between 5 to 11 people were detained.

According to Yuri Guaiana, Senior Campaigner at All Out, “Dozens of people were beaten by police and many have been arrested. One attendee was attacked by 10 police officers and a police dog.”

Istanbul Pride first took place in 2003, with just 30 activists. The event grew to about 100,000 participants by 2014, before being formally banned in 2016 “for the safety of our citizens, first and foremost the participants … and for public order.”