ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish police used water cannons and tear gas against gay pride marchers trying to rally in Istanbul’s central square on Sunday, forcing the thousands of demonstrators to gather several blocks away.
Two people were injured, according to the Dogan news agency. The extent of their injuries wasn’t immediately known.
Between 100 and 200 protesters were chased away from Taksim Square as they began gathering in the late afternoon. Police hemmed the demonstrators into a small corner of the square and then fired several jets of water to force them down a side street.
Within minutes, the noisy but otherwise peaceful rally restarted a few blocks away and grew to several thousand people as the day wore on. An Associated Press reporter at the scene occasionally smelled tear gas, but there didn’t appear any further attempt by police to interfere with the protest. The protest broke up around nightfall as many headed to local bars to celebrate.
Organizers said in a statement that the local authority prevented the rally from gathering at Taksim, a traditional focal point for protests, because it coincided with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Turkey does not ban homosexuality, although homophobia remains widespread.