Oppression of LGBTI rights took a new turn this November in Turkey. Following President Erdogan’s statement on 9 November 2017 that LGBTI existences are contrary to morality, the Ankara governor office banned all LGBTI events within the province for an indefinite period. The ban was followed by cancellation of events in other major Turkish cities like Bursa, Izmir, Kocaeli and Mardin. On November 25th, LGBTI events got banned also in Istanbul, Turkey’s biggest and most cosmopolitan city. According to reports, the ban has been accompanied by anti-LGBTI reports led by several newspapers.
In the last two years, human rights, freedom of expression and assembly of LGBTI people have seen significant regress in Turkey, starting in June 2015 when the governorate of Istanbul banned the Pride March and the police consequently attacked participants. Since then, pride marches have been banned in Istanbul as well as other cities.
At this stage however, local authorities, have taken yet another concerning step, by banning events like film screenings, exhibitions, forums, panels and meetings by LGBTI+ groups on what could be considered illegal grounds, infringing fundamental human rights such as freedom of assembly, expression and association. Authorities have also given reasons for banning these events such as “social sensitivities and sensibilities,” “protecting public health and morality” and “protecting other people’s rights and freedoms.”
LGBTI activists and organizations fear that authorities will continue to take further illegal and arbitrary steps, and are concerned of the consequences of such actions.
ERA – LGBTI Equal Rights Association for the Western Balkans and Turkey on behalf of its member organizations in Turkey, calls on the international community, to raise its voice against such infringement of fundamental human rights. International institutions which have expressed unambiguous support to the rights of LGBTI people need to engage in dialogue with Turkish authorities, demanding a reversal of such decisions and allow for LGBTI organizations to freely express themselves. It is important to remind everyone that Turkey is a pioneer signatory to the most important human rights mechanisms such as the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Freedom of Association and Protection of the Rights to Organize Convention etc.
We express full solidarity with LGBTI+ people in Turkey and their decades long efforts to contribute to a free, progressive and peaceful society. We do not endorse the marginalization of LGBTI people in Turkey and we join their struggle to claim public spaces and to enjoy all rights and freedoms enshrined in Turkish and international law.
We demand the international community to take immediate steps and to help reverse the banning of LGBTI events in Turkey.
If you support this initiative, please spread awareness via social media and in your networks and ask authorities in your constituency to take action.
Photo Credit: KAOS GL