Turkish police used tear gas to disperse demonstrators who gathered for a gay pride rally in Istanbul despite a government ban.

Dozens of LGBT demonstrators gathered Sunday off Istiklal Street, a major commercial artery, some brandishing the community's rainbow flag.

Police called on them to disperse and prevented activists from marching or making statements.

More than 300 policemen in anti-riot gear and backed by water cannons were deployed along the pedestrian thoroughfare and side streets.

Istanbul's governor had banned gay, lesbian and transgender individuals from holding two annual parades this year citing security concerns.

Istanbul has witnessed a series of deadly bombings in the past year, including two suicide attacks targeting tourists — one on Istiklal Street.