Bar associations have begun marching to the capital Ankara to protest the government's increasing pressure on them.
Heads of 80 bars hit the road to Ankara for the Defense March, with Istanbul Bar Head Mehmet Durakoğlu beginning the march from a courthouse in the Kartal district.
The move came after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) intensified its efforts to amend the law on changing bar associations' election systems in what critics say an effort to increase the number of pro-government figures in bars.
The issue came to the agenda after Ankara Bar Association slammed Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) for its remarks targeting LGBT individuals on Islamic grounds. The bar released a statement against the homophobic remarks, which was followed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calling for a change in their election system.
The bars will march for 10 kilometers symbolically and gather in Ankara on June 21.Turkish bar associations unite against Erdoğan's plan to intervene in their election system
"Our profession has very serious problems. This proposal needs to be withdrawn. We had nothing else to do but march since the government didn't respond," Durakoğlu said, adding that talks with authorities on the issue failed.
Thousands of people tweeted support for the bars with the hashtag "The defense is walking."
Another march is also ongoing in the country. The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) is also carrying out a Democracy March to Ankara to protest stripping three opposition deputies of their parliamentary statuses.Ankara lawyers asked to submit defenses after criticism of top cleric's homophobic remarks