ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Police in a Turkish Aegean resort refused to allow about 800 gay tourists, mostly from the United States, visit the ancient ruins of Ephesus, U.S. Embassy officials said Thursday.
The tourists, who also came from the Netherlands and Britain, arrived in the Aegean port of Kusadasi aboard the cruise liner Olympic Voyager on Wednesday as part of a Mediterranean tour.
Police stopped their buses at Selcuk, nearly two miles from Ephesus, and ordered them back to the cruise liner, the daily Hurriyet reported Thursday. A dozen of the buses entered the ancient city before the police blockade.
The U.S. embassy contacted Turkish officials and asked that the Americans be allowed to visit the sites, a spokesman said. He did not elaborate.
The U.S. consul-general, Frank Urbancic, met passengers of the Olympic Voyager when it docked at an Istanbul port Thursday, but did not comment on the incident.
Although gay artists, singers and belly dancers are popular in Muslim Turkey, homosexuality is still taboo and gays complain that they are often discriminated against, especially by police.
Police in Selcuk said they were carrying out orders of the interior minister, Hurriyet said. Ministry spokesman Mithat Dumanli said he was not aware of any such orders.