Istanbul’s Gay Pride Parade was over before it started this year, after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the assembling crowd, while armored vehicles blasted people with water cannons.
Normally, Istanbul is known as one of the few centers of LGBT tolerance in the Islamic world. The city is a progressive, cosmopolitan metropolis that does not see the political turmoil that Americans may associate with the region. Pride events have occurred in the city in the past; but this year, according to Reuters, the government did not want to permit the parade because the event fell during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
A group of parade participants also raised the ire of the Turkish government by carrying banners depicting the president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as a fascist, which is depressingly ironic considering the government’s reaction.
Turkey has long struggled to be accepted as a candidate for the European Union, but critics say the country cannot abide by the human rights requirements that are necessary for membership. It should be noted that Turkey is one of the few Islam-dominated countries on Earth that does not criminalize homosexuality, but they did just blast apart a Pride rally, so they have some explaining to do there.
The NBC news video is below, featuring yet another group of people in the Middle East running from police, which is unfortunately common in American news stories. We certainly hope the cutie in the photo above is OK, because he looks like he’s ready for a fight and that probably would not have ended well in this situation. Also, to watch a protestor get annihilated by a water canon, watch the GIF here. Ouch.
Update: We checked with writers in Istanbul to see if they saw the fracas, and they texted back to say the parade eventually did happen. Members of Turkish Congress who are not in President Erdogan’s party arrived at the scene to form a line between police and the peaceful parade participants.