Thousands at Pride parade in Paris as police arrest marchers in Istanbul

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Police in riot gear on Saturday blocked streets to try to thwart gay Pride marchers in Istanbul, while thousands turned out joyfully in Paris and elsewhere in Europe – although setbacks against LGBT rights tempered some of the celebratory air.

Authorities have banned Istanbul Pride events since 2015, citing public security and, more recently, Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

The Cumhuriyet newspaper said at least 25 people were detained.

Pandemic concerns forced the cancellation of Pride events in Lisbon and the postponement of London’s usually heavily attended event.

Turkey Europe Pride
People are detained by police in central Istanbul (Emrah Gurel/AP)

In Italy, thousands of Pride celebrants rallied in Rome and in some smaller cities.

With a proposed law to combat hate crimes against LGBTQ people stalled in the Italian senate for months, the Vatican and right-wing political leaders have been lobbying to eliminate some of the provisions, claiming the legislation will curtail freedom of expression.

The overarching mood among tens of thousands of participants at the Paris event was of celebration after nearly a year and a half of pandemic-triggered restrictions on gatherings and socialising.

Singing along to I Kissed A Girl by Katy Perry, people danced in one of the Metro trains that carried them to the rallying point.

Italy Europe Pride
The annual Pride march in Rome (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

“Being locked away was hard,” said Georges Gregoire, 33, who came with his partner from Lille. “I wanted to have fun.”

Many participants in Paris expressed alarm about the curtailing of rights in Hungary and Poland, two EU nations led by right-wing governments.

“If European leaders tolerate this, what’s to stop them from tolerating that at home?” said Mornia Paumelle-Pichon, a 26-year-old illustrator.

Last year, Poland’s president declared that the term LGBT did not mean people but an ideology more dangerous than communism, a reference to that nation’s several decades in the Soviet bloc.

In North Macedonia, hundreds of people marched through the capital, Skopje, as the Balkan country hosted only its second Pride parade. The crowd carried a large rainbow banner, blew whistles and cheered and danced to music playing from a vehicle with loudspeakers.

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