German politicians detained at Istanbul gay demo

Plainclothes police officers detain a foreign national as LGBT rights activists try to gather for a pride parade, which was banned by the governorship, in Istanbul, Turkey, on June 26, 2016. Volker Beck, a German Greens party lawmaker, is seen on the
Plainclothes police officers detain a foreign national as LGBT rights activists try to gather for a pride parade, which was banned by the governorship, in Istanbul, Turkey, on June 26, 2016. Volker Beck, a German Greens party lawmaker, is seen on the left. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISTANBUL (AFP) - Two German politicians were detained in Istanbul on Sunday (June 26) as riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters defying a ban on the city's Gay Pride parade.

Authorities in Turkey's biggest city had banned the annual parade earlier this month citing security reasons, sparking anger from gay rights activists.

Volker Beck, a prominent Green lawmaker and one of Germany's most vocal gay politicians, and Green MEP Terry Reintke both said on Twitter that they had been briefly detained.

Reintke tweeted that 15 people had been detained, complaining that the riot police - who turned out in force - had been "very aggressive".

Two or three hundred people turned out despite the ban, an AFP journalist said, gathering in small groups around the busy Istiklal shopping street.

They were quickly dispersed by police, who fired tear gas and rubber bullets and confiscated their rainbow flags.

Turkish police have cracked down heavily on even small demonstrations since major anti-government protests in Istanbul in 2013.

Sunday's crackdown comes a week after hundreds of riot police used tear gas and rubber bullets to stop Istanbul's "Trans Pride" event taking place during Ramadan.

It was the latest crackdown by police in Turkey against an event during the Muslim holy month.

Istanbul authorities said Sunday's rally was banned to "safeguard security and public order" after a string of bombings around Turkey over the past year.

Some of these attacks have been blamed on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria group, others claimed by Kurdish militants.

The annual Istanbul parade has taken place for the last 12 years without incident with thousands of people taking part in the most important LGBT gathering in a Muslim country in the region.