On Saturday, Ankara governor’s office has promulgated that all LGBTI events have been banned indefinitely until further notice, applying to panels, theaterical play stagings, exhibitions and film screenings in order to “protect public security”, as part of State of Emergency Rule. Thereupon, LGBTI organizations have published a statement regarding the ban, indicating that such restrictions violate the very fundamental rights & liberties, and that they have no legitimate ground.The process of extensive restrictions against LGBTI events has first started with the banning of “German LGBTI Film Screenings” that was to be held on November 16-17, with the excuse of protecting of public safety and precaution against terrorism risks. The governor’s office justified the restrictions claiming that such events may threaten health and morality, endanger the rights and liberties of people, as well as bringing about hostility between different groups. Besides, it has been claimed that LGBTI events may provoke some groups who are likely to take action against participants on the grounds that such events violate certain social sensitivities.
Turkey being constituted by a Muslim majority, LGBTI groups have often been exposed to animosity and discrimination in the country. However, Turkey differs from most Muslim countries as homosexuality is not a crime in the country and numerous LGBTI organizations are officially recognized by the state.
KAOS GL and Pembe Hayat [Pink Life] issued a statement: “This is explicitely a discrimination”
Ankara-based LGBTI solidarity associations KAOS GL and Pembe Hayat [Pink Life] stated that the decision has no legitimate grounds and that it violates fundamental rights and liberties:
We have received information via their website that “from November 18, 2017 until further notice, Ankara governor’s office has banned all events of LGBTI organizations indefinitely such as film screenings, cinevisions, theater shows, panels, talks, exhibitions, which include certain social sensitivities and sensibilities”.
We will follow legal proceedings on the governor’s illegal, discriminatory and arbitrary ban. There can be no legitimate or legal grounds for such a blanket ban that touches the core of rights.
In an omnibus ban with a very wide scope, we are facing a situation that is vague, open to interpretation and rights violations, criminalizing LGBTI existence. LGBTI civil society organizations are respectable institutions working for years to combat discrimination and hate crimes for equal citizenship. This ban, which goes beyond limiting the areas of activity of these institutions and making them inoperable, cannot be accepted in a democratic society.
Ankara governor office’s grounds for the omnibus ban, including the phrases “protecting public health and morality,” “social sensibilities and sensitivities,” “public security” and “protection of other people’s rights and liberties” are clearly discriminatory. This decision legitimizes rights violations and discrimination against LGBTIs.
This decision and the illegal and vague grounds for this ban violate the very fundamental freedom of expression and association as well as other fundamental rights and liberties. With this ban, fundamental rights have been interfered in their essence.
Ankara governor office’s banning decision violates the constitution’s Article 10 on equality and Article 26 on freedom to announce and disseminate thoughts, as well as international agreements Turkey is party to.
With this announcement the civil administration is endangering public safety by turning LGBTIs and civil society organizations, who are an important part of the public, into targets instead of fulfilling its duty to ensure public security.
We expect this decision to be reconsidered and withdrawn as soon as possible. In our country where discrimination and hate based on sexual orientation and gender identity is rampant, it is the duty of national and local administrations to combat this discrimination and hate.