Police in Istanbul, Turkey, broke up the annual Gay Pride parade Sunday, as crowds gathered to celebrate sexual diversity.
Even before the beginning of the parade, plainclothes police reportedly began detaining activists and organizers.
Police attacked as paraders prepared to walk from Istanbul's central Istiklal Avenue to the Tunel neighborhood around 5:00 pm.
Arriving in armored vehicles, dozens of policemen disrupted the parade, using water cannons, teargas and rubber bullets.
Disturbing images and video clips of police spraying water hoses at and hurling tear gas canisters towards unarmed participants were posted on social media.
Policemen and city authorities justified the clampdown, saying they were banning this year’s parade as it was taking place during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Organizers of the event said they were not told in advance about the decision taken by the local government.
"The 13th Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade scheduled to take place at 17:00 in Taksim has suddenly been banned by the governorate, using the month of Ramadan as the reasoning without any announcement," the group posted on their Facebook page.
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Unlike in other majority-Muslim countries, homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey and gay parades have been held since 2003.
Furthermore, the Turkish state declares itself secular, and is considered more progressive than other Middle Eastern countries.
As a response to police repression, activists continued to hold the parade, marching through Cihangir neighborhood to avoid the area being patrolled by the police.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or arrests.