Turkey’s governor’s office in Adana province bans LGBTI pride march

The Adana Governor’s Office has banned an LGBTI pride parade scheduled to take place on Saturday in the southern province of Adana over “possible incitement of hatred and hostility” among people.

The open-area event could lead to “an incitement of hatred and hostility of one group against another having differences in terms of social class, race, religion, sect or religion, and therefore an open and imminent danger for the public security,” the governor’s office was quoted as saying in its justification for the ban, local media reported.

Gay pride parades along with film screenings organized by LGBTI groups have recently been banned in Turkish cities. In a recent move, the Ankara Governor’s Office banned the movie screening event of a communist LGBT group that was to be held in the capital city on June 28.

The office had again said such events can “incite hatred and enmity” among different segments of society.

Members of İstanbul’s gay and transgender community (LGBTI) had gathered for a rally on July 1 instead of the annual pride march after they said the parade itself had been banned by the city’s governor for the third consecutive year. Riot police used tear gas, dogs and batons to disperse hundreds of people.

İstanbul Pride took place without incident for more than a decade, however was last allowed in 2014, and banned since by the authorities. Last year the city’s governor cited concerns about the “security of citizens and tourists” and “public order” after an ultranationalist group threatened the march with violence.

Being gay is not crime in Turkey, unlike in many other Muslim countries, but homophobia remains widespread. Critics accuse Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) of showing little interest in expanding minority rights and of being intolerant of dissent.

İstanbul has traditionally been seen as a relative safe haven by members of the gay community from elsewhere in the region, but although homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, homophobia remains widespread.

Civil liberties in Turkey have become a particular concern for the West after a crackdown under a state of emergency declared following a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Some 160,000 people have been detained and nearly the same number of state employees dismissed, the United Nations said in March.

Aside from the pride marches in İstanbul and Ankara, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movie showings have recently been banned, with the authorities citing security reasons and public sensitivities.

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