Monday, 20 August, 2018

Houston Pride Festival and Parade set for downtown this weekend

19264401_10154959413609794_6155578768394581502_o A LGBT supporter from the recent Chennai Pride Parade
Ellis Copeland | 29 June, 2017, 19:47

Organizers say they wanted to show the need for those who feel marginalized to turn out and be a part of this year's event.

The authorities had said that the march on Sunday (25 June) was banned for safety and public order reasons, due to concern of "serious reactions by different segments of society".

"They had known about our plan long before because we presented a petition weeks ago", Ozlen told AFP.

Amnesty International condemned the move to ban the parade, expressing "deep concerns" in a statement.

This year, the date for the march coincided with the Islamic holiday of Eid, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, inviting even more controversy in the Muslim country.

Eleven activists went on trial in Istanbul this week for defying last year's ban on the Gay Pride march, but they were all acquitted.

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On June 28, 1970, more than 2,000 people marched in the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, marking the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and, subsequently, the first LGBT Pride March in USA history.

A year earlier in 2015, the parade hadn't been formally canceled, but police began using rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannons to force marchers to disperse. Like on any place in the world, there is a large gay, lesbian, transgender community in Istanbul and the rest of Turkey.

A crew from the city Department of Transportation will break out their buckets of paint and redecorate the Christopher Street crosswalk, near the Stonewall National Monument, overnight Saturday into Sunday, the mayor's office said. "These threats, bans, pressures will not stop us!" the organizing committee said in a statement.

Critics accuse President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of having overseen a creeping Islamisation since he came to power, first as prime minister in 2003 and then president in 2014. Only a few days had passed since a gunman in Florida killed 49 people in a gay nightclub on its Latin night, and Americans turned out en masse to support the LGBT community-especially the 37,000 people who joined together to put on the colorful NYC parade.

The march was banned previous year due to "security concerns", and the marchers were dispersed by the riot police using tear gas and rubber bullets. "Now is a time for resistance and resilience", said James Esseks, director of the ACLU's LGBT & HIV Project.

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