In June this year Turkish police viciously attacked participants at a gay pride march on Istanbul. And today it’s reported that authorities in Turkey have ramped up their opposition to all things gay by outlawing events organised by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex rights groups in its capital city, Ankara.
The ban has been imposed to protect “public security”, the Ankara Governor’s office said. The restrictions came into effect yesterday (Saturday) and will last for an “indefinite” period, applying to all LGBT+ film screenings, theatres, panels and exhibitions.
The governor’s office claimed such events may cause animosity between different groups and endanger “health and morality”, as well as the rights and freedoms of others.
It warned some groups may be provoked by LGBTI events and take action against participants due to
Certain social sensitivities.
Unlike many Muslim countries, homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey and numerous LGBTI associations are legally registered with the state. But there is widespread hostility and rights activists say LGBTI people face discrimination and stigma.
The announcement by Ankara’s government is likely to deepen concern about civil liberties under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Authorities in Ankara had already banned a German gay film festival on Wednesday, the day before it was due to start, citing public safety and terrorism risks. Organisers of Pink Life Queerfest said the ban:
Deprives us of our constitutional rights in the name of ‘protection’.
In June, 25 LGBT+ rights supporters were arrested after attending a banned Pride march. They were later charged with participating in an unauthorised demonstration.
Istanbul’s local government had banned the march at the last minute on the grounds that:
It might lead to provocative actions and disrupt the public order.
Police in riot gear broke up the parade, firing rubber bullets at demonstrators, after organisers decided to press ahead with the event.
Earlier this month, Erdogan accused the main opposition party of moving away from the country’s “moral values” after a small opposition-run district installed a quota for LGBT+ candidates running for election to a neighbourhood committee.
The Turkish leader, a pious Muslim, said the pro-secular main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, would learn “the lesson they deserve” at an election in 2019. He insisted:
We have no business with those who have declared war on the people’s values.
After the 2017 pride parade was broken up, the organisers said in a statement:
We are not scared, we are here, we will not change. You are scared, you will change and you will get used to it.
We are here again to show that we will fight in a determined fashion for our pride. We are not alone, we are not wrong, we have not given up. Governors, governments, states change and we stay. Threats, bans, pressures will not deter us … We will not give up.
Hat tip: Angela_K