Riot police break up a Pride march in Istanbul on Sunday. Photo: AFP

Turkish riot police beat and used tear gas and rubber bullets against LGBTI activists who assembled in Istanbul on Sunday for a banned Pride march.

Approximately 1,000 people gathered near Istiklal Avenue and Taksim Square, the intended starting point for the illegal parade.

The activists chanted slogans and waved rainbow flags around Istiklal Avenue, Istanbul’s main pedestrian street. However, they were forced to move along from street to street as police tried to break up the gathering, which has been banned by the local government for four years.

As activists unfolded a large rainbow flag, a press statement was read out by a volunteer: “We do not recognise this ban.”

After ordering the activists to disperse, police used tear gas and rubber bullets in an effort to end the gathering.

Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher, said on Twitter: “100s of police throughout the Taksim area to stop the Istanbul Pride taking place but creative and courageous Pride participants sidestep the ban and read their press statement at a back street spontaneous protest.”

March organisers said the governor had banned the march in violation of the right to freedom of assembly. However, the authorities insist the march has been banned since 2015 for security reasons and in deference to public “sensitivities.”

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