For several years, Pride Week in Istanbul attracted tens of thousands of participants, making it one of largest gatherings celebrating gay, lesbian and transgender rights and diversity in the Muslim world. That changed suddenly two years ago, when authorities, citing security concerns, banned gay and transgender pride events and chased away shocked participants assembling at central Taksim Square with tear gas and water cannons.
The reversal, activists say, coincides with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan shedding his reformist past, taking an increasingly authoritarian line and raising Islam's profile in the officially-secular country. In his early years in office, Erdoğan—then prime minister—had worked to advance minority rights as part of efforts to join the European Union.
Unlike other Muslim countries, homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey. However, lesbian, gay, transgender activists say they lack legal