Ankara Governor’s Office bans LGBT film festival, draws ire

The German Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) Film Days which was due to run tomorrow in Turkish Capital Ankara, has been banned by the Ankara Governor’s Office over “possible incitement of hatred and hostility among people.”

According to Turkish media, the festival, scheduled to be held on 16-17 November in Ankara, has been cancelled after the governor’s office received a tip regarding the scheduled films which “may be in conflict with the social values of the majority.”

The statement also said that the film festival “may openly incite sections of the population to enmity or hatred towards another group on the basis of social class, race, religion, sectarian or regional difference, in a manner which may present a clear and imminent danger in terms of public safety.”

German Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Roth has criticized a recent ban by the Ankara Governor’s Office on a German LGBT film festival scheduled for Nov. 16 and Nov. 17. “The Ankara Governor’s Office banned our Embassy’s LGBT Film Festival. The freedom of arts and minority rights are inviolable and this should also be applied to Turkey. Our colleagues in Ankara are giving their attitude very clearly by unfurling the [LGBT] flag. Thanks,” Roth tweeted on Friday both in German and Turkish, referring to an LGBT flag draped outside the embassy building.

The organizers Pink Life QueerFest also stated that the festival had been attacked on social media. “Suggesting that these screenings could be provocative or targeted by terror groups only serves to legitimize those people and institutions that produce hate speech towards us and see our existence as a threat,” they said in a statement.

“It only goes to deprive us of our constitutional rights under the name of ‘protection,’” the statement added.

LGBT groups in Turkey seem to be having difficult times due to ever-increasing political pressure. This is not the first time a LGBT activity was banned by the Turkish government or state officials.

Early in June, the İstanbul Governor’s Office banned an LGBTI pride parade scheduled to take place in Taksim Square on June 25, citing security and public order concerns.

“The application for the parade was not properly submitted to our office in accordance with Law 2911. There is also serious criticism of this parade from various segments of society on social media,” said the statement issued by the governor’s office.

“In line with our assessment, and taking into consideration the safety of residents and tourists in the area as well as public order, it will not be permitted to hold the parade or to gather and protest on that day, before that day or after that day.”

The ban came days after the Alperen Ocakları, an offshoot of Turkish nationalist movement the Grey Wolves (Ülkü Ocakları), announced that they would not allow LGBTI members to hold the pride parade.

“Even if the government permits it, we will not let them walk,” said Kürşat Mican, İstanbul head of Alperen Ocakları during a program on KRT TV.

“Wherever they walk, we will go there and block the street. They can come there,” added Mican, who stood trial for threats against LGBTI members ahead of the pride parade last year. (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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