Turkish police use tear gas and pepper spray to stop Ankara pride march

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Turkish police used tear gas and pepper spray against activists and dragged them to the ground during the pride march in Ankara on Tuesday.

At least 36 people have been arrested, according to UniKuir, an Ankara-based LGBTQ+ group. Authorities have banned Pride parades across the country for security reasons, although homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey.

Last week, thousands of people gathered in central Istanbul to hold an annual Pride march despite restrictions. More than 300 people were arrested as police in riot gear blocked nearby streets and dispersed crowds of protesters.

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Police crackdowns on Pride parades and public hostility towards the LGBTQ+ community have intensified in recent years as President Tayyip Erdogan’s government and his Islamist-rooted AK Party have hardened their stance on gay rights.

Last year, a Turkish court acquitted 19 defendants accused of taking part in a Pride march on a university campus, ruling that their actions did not constitute a crime.

Most of the 18 students and a faculty member at Middle East Technical University have been charged with ‘refusing to disperse’ after they were arrested during the 2019 march by police, who also used gas pepper spray, plastic bullets and tear gas.

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