What's it like being LGBT in Turkey? Share your stories

Frederick Owens
November 21, 2017

Turkish government has banned all events by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights groups in Ankara.

"Starting from November 18, 2017, concerning our community's public sensitivity, any events such as LGBT. cinema, theater, panels, interviews, exhibitions are banned until further notice in our province to provide peace and security", the governor's office said in a statement. According to the BBC, the new ban was in direct response to a German-language gay film festival, Pink Life QueerFest, that had been scheduled to take place in Ankara and was sponsored by the German Embassy.

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".

"Suggesting that these screenings could be provocative or targeted by terror groups only goes to legitimize those people and institutions that produce hate speech toward us and see our existence as a threat", Pink Life QueerFest organizers said in a statement translated by the BBC. Several LGBTI organisations in Turkey have already called the ban unconstitutional and illegal and the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights said today that "such a blanket ban clearly disregards Turkey's global human rights obligations, notably under the European Convention on Human Rights".

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In addition, gay pride parades have been banned in Istanbul for the last two years running.

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. Istanbul police responded by breaking up the crowds with tear gas, rubber pellets and water cannons.

The official statement cited public security, public order, public health and morality concerns as reasons to ban activities being organised by LGBTI groups.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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