Turkish Capital Ankara Bans All LGBT+ Events

Turkey has officially banned all festivals, screenings, forums and exhibitions by LGBT+ rights groups in its capital city, Ankara, on the grounds of security. The restrictions came into effect on Saturday and will remain until further notice.

The governor’s office said the ban would help to promote “public order, prevention of crime, general health and morals.” The ban is the latest in a series of attempts by the ruling Justice and Development (AK) party to crack down the activities of Turkey’s LGBT+ rights movement, nd to impose what critics say is a public morality rooted in Islam.

Ankara-based LGBT+ organisations Pink Life and Kaos GL said the language used in the governor’s ban was too wide and that it violated Turkey’s constitution: “Ankara governor’s 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 legitimises rights violations and discrimination against LGBTIs,”

Although homosexuality in Turkey is legal since 1923 and a number of registered LGBT+ organisations exist within the nation, activists say that homophobia is rampant and that there is widespread stigma and discrimination against LGBT+ people. Harassment and abuse is common, and there have been numerous accounts of homophobic and transphobic attacks.

The annual gay pride rally in Istanbul has been blocked for three years running by the authorities.

In June, 25 LGBT+ rights supporters were arrested after attending a banned Pride march. They were later charged with participating in an unauthorised demonstration. Its local government had banned the march at the last minute on the grounds “it might lead to provocative actions and disrupt the public order”. Istanbul police used tear gas and rubber pellets on LGBTQ supporters who took to that city’s streets in June in defiance of a ban on the Gay Pride Festival.

The announcement by the Ankara governor’s office said the ban would include films, plays, exhibitions, panels and other events in an effort to protect “public order and public health and morals” as well as due to certain “social sensitivities”.

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