LGBTI+ rights group takes Ankara ban on gay events to ECtHR

One of the oldest LGBTI+ advocacy groups in Turkey has filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) regarding a ban on LGBTI+ events imposed by the Ankara Governor’s Office in 2017, Turkish Minute reported, citing a news report released on the association’s website on Monday.

The application at the ECtHR was filed by Kaos GL (Kaos Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association).

The ban, which was put in place indefinitely in October 2017 during a two-year state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a coup attempt in July 2016, was removed by a local administrative court in April 2019, following an objection filed by Kaos GL.

The governor’s office had prohibited LGBTI+ cinema and theater-related activities as well as panel discussions and exhibits in the capital city, citing security concerns and the risk of provocation due to “social sensitivities.”

Kerem Dikmen, a lawyer representing Kaos GL, emphasized in the petition filed with the ECtHR the need for a separate evaluation of the damage inflicted by the ban, which caused a violation of rights, although it was lifted in 2019. Dikmen said the local administrative court hadn’t made an assessment in terms of “discrimination.”

Both LGBTI+ people and their associations became victims of the ban, the lawyer said, arguing that it violated the prohibition of degrading treatment, the right to respect for private life, the freedoms of thought, expression and assembly and association, the right to an effective remedy and the prohibition of discrimination cited in the European Convention on Human Rights.

According to Kaos GL, it was also stated in the petition that while the lawsuit against the ban imposed in 2017 was ongoing, the Ankara Governor’s Office issued another ban using the same arguments in 2018, thus invalidating the decision of the local administrative court before it was announced.

The second ban imposed by the Ankara Governor’s Office was also removed on March 23, 2020.

A 2021 report by Kaos GL revealed that Turkey’s LGBTI+ community is feeling increasingly threatened under the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

According to the report the government frequently targets LGBTQ+ individuals since high-ranking government officials publicly said they damage Turkish social and family values.

Turkey was ranked 48th among 49 countries as regards the human rights of LGBTI+ people, according to the 2021 Rainbow Europe Map published by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)-Europe in May.

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