Turkey Bans LGBT Activism to “Protect Public Security”

Turkey LGBT ban
Citing public “sensitives” and “security”, Turkish authorities have issued a ban on all LGBT related events in its capital Ankara. Copyright: Kaos GL.

Turkey has banned all events related to, or organised by, LGBT organisations in its capital Ankara. Citing public “sensitives” and “security”, the official authorities in Ankara label LGBT activism as a threat to the Turkish society and its values. Civil Rights Defenders strongly condemns the ban and is deeply concerned about the situation for human rights in Turkey.

On 19 November, the Office of the Governor in Ankara issued a statement saying that all LGBT events, such as movie screening, theatre plays, panel discussions, and exhibitions are prohibited until further notice. The ban, which is a clear attempt of intimidating LGBT activists, is, according to local authorities, intended to create peace and security in Ankara as well as to protect public health and morality.

The Governor’s office stated that Turkey is a diverse society with significant social, cultural racial, religious and regional diversity, which is why LGBT activism poses an imminent danger to public safety. However, the authorities have not disclosed any particular incidents or threats to back up the statement.

“With the new ban on activities planned by LGBT organisations in Ankara, Turkey has taken a step backward in the protection of human rights. Turkish authorities should be aware that the protection of citizens is dependent on securing justice, equality, freedom, and on ensuring that the voices of their citizens can be heard,” said Goran Miletić, Director for Europe at Civil Rights Defenders.

Prior to the official statement on 19 November, Turkish officials had already banned the German-language LGBT film festival “Pink Life QueerFest” organised by the Pink Life Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) Solidarity Association in Ankara. Although no official threats had been received, the authorities stated that the festival was a threat to public security, including the risk of terrorism.

Turkey LGBT ban
The ban is a clear violation of LGBT people’s right to freedoms of expression, association and participation in society. Copyright: Kaos GL.

Turkish LGBT organisations are important and respected human rights actors, committed to creating a more equal society. The long-term restrictive measures imposed by the authorities are now depriving LGBT activists and LGBT persons of their basic rights and freedoms to expression, association and participation in society. Civil Rights Defenders calls for an end to these human rights violations and the discrimination against the LGBT community in Ankara.

Civil Rights Defenders strongly condemns the ban of all LGBT related events in Ankara, and urges to the authorities for an immediate withdrawal of the decision. LGBT activists must be able to continue their important and valuable work in a safe and public environment. Turkish authorities must respect and adhere to its international human rights obligations in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights.

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