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Turkey bans all LGBTI events across Ankara province

Homosexuality has been legal since the creation of the modern Turkish republic in 1923.

Police dispersed a group of around 50 people who wanted to stage a LGBT Trans Pride March on the afternoon of 19 June 2016, in Istanbul's Taksim Square.
Police dispersed a group of around 50 people who wanted to stage a LGBT Trans Pride March on the afternoon of 19 June 2016, in Istanbul's Taksim Square.
Image: Depo Photos/PA

TURKISH AUTHORITIES HAVE announced a ban on all LGBTI cultural events in Ankara province until further notice to “maintain public order”.

The move follows a ban on a festival of German-language gay films in the capital on Thursday, imposed on the grounds it could incite hatred and be at risk from terror attacks.

“Since (Saturday) 18 November and until further notice, all film and theatre events, screenings, panels, colloquium, exhibitions, etc… have been banned,” the Ankara administration said on its website.

It argues that LGBTI events are likely to “provoke reactions within certain segments” of society and has issued the ban to “maintain public order”.

But organisers of Thursday’s film festival wanted authorities to instead offer greater protection, denouncing the move as a violation of their constitutional rights.

The announcement will fuel concern amongst LGBTI activists in Turkey that their right to freedom of expression is being curtailed under the Islamic-rooted government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Homosexuality has been legal since the creation of the modern Turkish republic in 1923, and was also legalised in the Ottoman Empire from the mid-nineteenth century.

However, LGBTI individuals in the country frequently complain of mistreatment including harassment, abuse and rape as well as animosity.

The annual gay pride rally in Istanbul, once a hugely popular event, has been blocked by authorities for three years in a row also on security grounds.

Activists accuse the government of banning such events in a bid to impose a conservative morality on the hugely diverse country. But authorities insist they are acting to protect citizens’ safety.

Earlier this month, Erdogan was outraged at the existence of a quota for gays on a neighbourhood committee, saying it was at odds with the nation’s values.

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