Thousands marched in Turkey over the weekend in the largest gay pride event seen in any majority Muslim country on Earth
Tens of thousands of LGBTI people and their supporters marched down Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue on Sunday for this year’s Istanbul Pride March and the number of participants may have even been bigger than the 100,000 who marched last year.
Billed as the largest expression of LGBTI pride anywhere in the Muslim world, participants waved rainbow flags and signs and marched peacefully under the watch of Turkish police.
LGBTI activists have been a visible force during the mass demonstrations against the Turkish Government over the last 12 months – particularly in protests against government plans to turn Istanbul’s Gezi Park into a shopping mall which crystalized the opposition.
Turkish police used tear gas against people who tried to mark the anniversary of those protests as recently as May this year but the pride march looks to have finished without incident.
The event was criticized in religious circles however, as the parade’s date happened to coincide with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan this year.
Istanbul Pride has traditionally been on held on the last Weekend of June. However the start of Ramadan changes from year to year based on the sighting of a crescent moon and it started as late as 10 July last year.