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Detained LGBTQ activists in Istanbul Pride being released

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ISTANBUL — Istanbul’s LGBTQ Pride organizers say more than 360 people were detained by police Sunday following a ban on all Pride events.

Kaos GL, a leading LGBTQ rights association, said all the detained were being freed Monday after giving their police statement and undergoing health checks. Some were released overnight.

District governors in the two popular Istanbul districts of Beyoglu and Kadikoy outlawed all LGBTQ events last week, saying the ban would to ensure safety, peace and prevent crime. Numerous streets and subway stations were closed off by police Sunday to stop protesters from gathering. Police also pushed and detained journalists.

Amnesty Turkey said the ban was “extremely harsh” and “arbitrary.” The rights group’s Turkey campaigner, Milena Buyum, tweeted that the detained individuals were “deprived of their liberty simple bc they were exercising their rights” to freedom of expression and assembly.

Turkish authorities allowed Pride marches to take place for more than a decade starting in 2003, when Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan served as prime minister. Up to 100,000 people attended Istanbul Pride in 2014.

But in 2015, police dispersed crowds using tear gas and water cannons after a last-minute ban. The march has been banned ever since and top Turkish officials have called LGBTQ people “perverts” who aim to hurt traditional family values.

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