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The Latest: Tear gas, checkpoints greet LGBT pride in Turkey

Associated Press logo Associated Press 25/06/2017
FILE - In this Sunday, June 28, 2015 file photo, Turkish police, one holding a rubber bullet rifle, center, run to disperse participants of a Pride Week march in Istanbul. For several years, Pride Week in Istanbul attracted tens of thousands of participants, making it one of largest gatherings celebrating gay, lesbian and transgender rights and diversity in the Muslim world. That changed suddenly in 2015, when authorities, citing security concerns, banned gay and trans-gender pride events chasing away shocked participants trying to converge on central Taksim Square with tear gas and water cannons. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Sunday, June 28, 2015 file photo, Turkish police, one holding a rubber bullet rifle, center, run to disperse participants of a Pride Week march in Istanbul. For several years, Pride Week in Istanbul attracted tens of thousands of participants, making it one of largest gatherings celebrating gay, lesbian and transgender rights and diversity in the Muslim world. That changed suddenly in 2015, when authorities, citing security concerns, banned gay and trans-gender pride events chasing away shocked participants trying to converge on central Taksim Square with tear gas and water cannons. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel, File)

ISTANBUL — The Latest on the banned LGBT march in Istanbul (all times local):

6:45 p.m.

Turkish police have prevented people from gathering in large numbers for LGBT pride in Istanbul as small groups continue to make ad hoc demonstrations despite a ban issued by the governor.

Organizers of the 2017 Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride called for the march in central Taksim Square, using a Turkish hashtag for "we march." The Istanbul governor's office on Saturday banned the event — for the third year in a row — citing reasons of safety and public order.

Police established checkpoints in the area on Sunday, preventing groups from entering Istiklal Avenue and turning back people who they deemed were associated with the march.

At least a hundred protesters gathered in the nearby Cihangir neighborhood, beating drums and chanting slogans: "Don't be quiet, shout out, gays exist!"

Police also used tear gas to disperse crowds and activists say plastic bullets were used.

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4:44 p.m.

Police barricades, riot-control vehicles and buses were dispatched to the area where activists for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex rights say they plan to launch a pride march that the governor banned.

The governor's ban cited safety concerns and "serious reactions by different segments of society" as several nationalist and religious groups called for the march's cancellation.

But Pride organizers said in a statement Sunday that the threats themselves should be dealt with rather than limiting demonstrations.

The statement said: "Our security will be provided by recognizing us in the constitution, by securing justice, by equality and freedom."

LGBT activists have long lobbied unsuccessfully to have sexual orientation and gender identity covered by Turkish laws protecting civil rights and prohibiting hate speech.

Homosexuality has been legal in Turkey since the republic's founding more than nine decades ago.

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1:55 p.m.

Activists for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex rights say they will march for Pride in Istanbul, despite a ban by the governor's office.

Organizers of the 2017 Istanbul LGBTI Pride said Sunday the gathering would begin at 5 p.m. (14:00 GMT) in central Taksim Square, using a Turkish hashtag for "we march."

The Istanbul governor's office on Saturday banned the event — for the third year in a row — citing safety and public order fears. The statement also said the governor's office had not received a valid parade application — a claim rejected by organizers.

For more than a decade, Turkish authorities allowed Pride marches to take place. Up to 100,000 people attended Istanbul Pride in 2014 but Turkish police dispersed Pride crowds in 2015 and 2016 using riot-control methods.

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