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Turkey bans Istanbul Pride, organizers vow to march anyway

FILE – In this Sunday, June 28, 2015 file photo, a participant in the Pride Week march in Istanbul, stands wet from water sprayed by a Turkish police water canon, in Istanbul.Istanbul Governor’s Office has announced that it will not allow the LGBT Pride March, which was set to take place on June 25 in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, citing security concerns and public order.Rejecting the statement that they did not submit an appropriate application for the march, the committee said: “We would like to once again underline that we are not in one place but everywhere in the city”.The city government also said “very serious reactions by different segments of society” were raised against the march.It will be the second year in a row that the city’s LBGT march, previously described as the largest in the Muslim world, has been blocked by city officials.Eleven activists were put on trial for taking part in last year’s pride march, which was banned.Homosexuality is not criminalized in Turkey, though homophobia is pervasive. “It starts in the family, it continues at the university, in the working life”, said Deniz Sapka, a transgender woman originally from the southeastern province of Hakkari, who goes by that surname to avoid recognition by family members.Istanbul Governor Vasip Şahin banned the parade, which was once the largest in the Muslim world, due to what he claims is a security threat from ultra-nationalist Alperen Hearths group.Sunday’s planned march coincides with the Eid holiday, marking the end of a month of fasting for Ramadan.The group, linked to Turkey’s Great Unity Party, repeated the threat last week despite an ongoing court case against them brought by the LGBTI community.Hakan Taş, a German politician of Turkish origin who is also gay, told Turkish media that the country’s LGBT community was coming under increasing pressure and said the ban amounted to a human rights violation.The post-coup state of emergency has aggravated conditions for LGBTI individuals.Zeynep Bilginsoy in Istanbul and Suzan Fraser in Ankara contributed.”Even if the government permits it, we will not let them walk”, said Kürşat Mican, Istanbul head of Alperen Ocakları during a program on KRT TV.