CoE human rights commissioner slams banning of LGBT events in Ankara
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks has called on the Ankara Governor’s Office to reverse a blanket ban on events organized by LGBT NGOs “immediately,” calling it a “blatant human rights violation.”
“I call on the Turkish central authorities to ensure that decentralised administrations uphold human rights standards and that this regrettable decision of the Ankara Governor’s Office is reversed immediately,” he said in a statement on Nov. 20.
“Such a blanket ban clearly disregards Turkey’s international human rights obligations, notably under the European Convention on Human Rights,” it read.
The commissioner’s call came after the Ankara Governor’s Office on Nov. 19 banned the public showing of films, staging of theatre plays, panels, discussions and exhibitions related to LGBT issues or organized by LGBT NGOs.
The governor’s office made the decision on grounds that the events might “incite hatred,” and “would present danger for public safety due to certain social sensitivities,” adding that it “aims the protection of general health and morality, as well as the rights and freedoms of others.”
Muiznieks criticized the justification of the governor’s office, stating that an event’s possibility to offend some people can “under no circumstances serve as a justification to curtail the legitimate rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly of LGBTI persons, as well as the right of the entire population of Ankara to be informed about LGBTI issues.”
“In cases where the authorities have grounds to fear for the security of persons exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression and assembly, the authorities’ duty is to protect these persons from the extremists and potential criminals threatening them, not to restrict their rights,” it read.
Muiznieks added that the latest ban caused concern over “continuing backsliding in the field of human rights protection in Turkey and of growing intolerance toward LGBTI persons by the Turkish authorities.”
Prior to the ban, Ankara authorities had banned an LGBT film festival supported by the German Embassy on Nov. 15, a day before it was due to start, with the same justification.