Hundreds of Turkish transsexuals and rights activists staged a protest in Istanbul on Sunday against the conservative government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The annual march came after weeks of unprecedented anti-government protests in Istanbul, the capital Ankara and other cities over what is seen as Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian rule.

The nearly 1,000 protesters set off from Taksim Square, the epicentre of the protest movement, along a main Istanbul shopping street carrying signs with slogans such as "being transsexual is not a disease".

"This is just the beginning, the struggle continues," protesters chanted the day after the latest protest in Taksim Square was violently dispersed.

Turkey's Gay Pride organisation plans to hold its annual march next weekend.

Homosexuality and sex change operations are not illegal in Turkey as in many other Muslim countries, but homophobia is common and often leads to violence.