ISTANBUL - Istanbul riot police fired tear gas and rubber pellets on Sunday to disperse a march for transgender people banned after ultra-nationalists said that "degenerates" could not demonstrate.
Hundreds of riot police cordoned off the city's main Taksim Square to prevent the "Trans Pride" rally taking place during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.Authorities have banned transgender and gay pride marches this month, citing security concerns after the ultra-nationalist warnings against any such events on Turkish soil.
"Football fans can rally in this country whenever they want. We were going to do a peaceful activity," said Ebru Kiranci, spokesperson of the Istanbul LGBTI Solidarity Association.
"(The) holy month of Ramadan is an excuse. If you are going to respect Ramadan, respect us too. The heterosexuals think it's too much for us, only 2 hours in 365 days," she said.
The annual gay pride parade, described as the biggest in the Muslim world, was due to take place on June 26. Istanbul has held gay pride parades since 2003, attracting tens of thousands of marchers, but last year's was broken up by police.
Although the Turkish republic is constitutionally secular, the vast majority of the population is Muslim.
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