LGBT groups take legal steps after events banned in Ankara
The statement came after the Governor’s Office ordered a ban on the public showing of all films, exhibitions and events related to LGBT issues, citing “public sensitivities.”
“Starting from Nov. 18, 2017, considering public sensitivities, any events such as LGBT ... cinema, theater performances, panels, interviews and exhibitions are banned until further notice in our province, in order to provide peace and security,” it stated on Nov. 19.
Two LGBT rights organizations, Pink Life and Kaos GL, issued a joint declaration after the ruling, saying the ban was “against the law, discriminatory and arbitrary.”
“With this decision, as well as the justifications for it that are contrary to the law, fundamental rights and freedoms such as the freedom of expression and organization were violated. With this decision, fundamental rights were violated through discriminatory motives,” said in the statement.
The authorities in Ankara had banned an LGBT film festival supporter by the German Embassy on Nov. 15, the day before it was due to start, citing “public safety and terrorism risks.
German Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Roth criticized the ban, saying “the freedom of arts and minority rights are inviolable and this should also be applied in Turkey.”
Four movies by German directors were scheduled to be screened as part of the two-day festival, organized jointly by the German Embassy and the Pink Life QueerFest group.
Pink Life QueerFest said the festival had been attacked on social media prior to the ban decision.
The bans come after annual LGBT pride marches have been banned for three years running in Turkey.
The first LGBT Pride March permitted by the authorities was held in 2003 in Istanbul and was conducted for 13 years until 2015.
Over the years the participation level rose, reaching tens of thousands people in 2013 and 2014, which made the Istanbul LGBT Pride March one of the biggest in the region.
However in June 2015 police dispersed the march using tear gas and rubber bullets. It was subsequently banned by the Istanbul Governor’s Office in 2016 and 2017, citing security reasons and “public sensitivities.”