Turkey’s far-right ruling party, which is known for its frequent homophobic remarks, sent its police to attack a peaceful LGBT pride parade in Istanbul on Saturday. Turkey’s government has become increasingly authoritarian and hostile to gay rights, bashing activists over the years. Government officials have accused gay-rights activists of being “deviants,” and the ruling AKP Party, which has roots in the Muslim Brotherhood, has frequently pushed hate speech against gay people. The future of Turkey belonged to right-leaning Islamist youth, not “LGBT youth,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech in February. AKP has cracked down and suppressed gay rights and Pride Month for a decade under an increasingly authoritarian agenda. Headlines in 2006 said gay rights were moving in a positive direction toward equality, but gay-rights activists are now beaten by police. Journalists have been rounded up and imprisoned to a level that makes Turkey the largest jailor of journalists in the world, according to Amnesty International, PEN and other groups. In photos that activists said conjured up the murder of George Floyd in the US, police in Istanbul appeared to put their knee on the neck of photojournalist Bulent Kilic as they detained him. Police harassed people at restaurants and anyone filming their attacks on the pride protesters on Saturday. Nevertheless, many thousands of Turkish activists took to the streets and braved the police attacks.
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