Turkey bans LGBT events in capital, citing 'public security'

Turkish officials have banned all events by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex rights groups in the country’s capital, in a move LGBT organizations call illegal and discriminatory.

The ban took effect Saturday for an “indefinite” period and applies to all LGBT film screenings, theatres, panels and exhibitions.

The Ankara governor’s office announced Sunday that the ban was imposed to protect “public security.” It said the events may cause animosity between different groups and endanger “health and morality” as well as the rights and freedoms of others.

APTOPIX Turkey Gay Pride Parade

A participant in the Gay Pride event in support of LGBT rights reacts as others flee after Turkish police use a water canon to disperse them in Istanbul in June 2015. (Emrah Gurel/Associated Press)

The governor’s office warned that some groups may be provoked by LGBT events and take action against participants because of “certain social sensitivities.”

Although homosexuality isn’t banned in Turkey and numerous LGBT associations are legally registered with the state, rights activists say LGBT individuals face discrimination and stigma.

‘Breach of fundamental rights and freedoms’

Two Ankara-based LGBT associations slammed the “arbitrary” ban in a statement late Sunday, saying it violates domestic and international laws.

Kaos GL and Pink Life organizations argued the vagueness and wide scope of the decision would legitimize rights violations against LGBT individuals and turn them into targets.

The organizations said the decision would cripple their work to combat discrimination and hate crimes, calling on officials to withdraw the ban.

ILGA, a global organization for LGBT rights, called the ban “a disgraceful breach of fundamental rights and freedoms” and warned that it constituted an example of the “shrinking space” for LGBT civil society in Turkey.

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