Eighteen members of a Turkish LGBT association which also represents transvestites have been arrested in the city of Bursa for “forming a gang to commit crimes, being an associate with a gang, and inciting prostitution.”

Turkish activists are divided as to the accuracy of the charge, but are warning the police could use the incident to harass other LGBT groups.

The arrests follow tense relations between police and the ‘Rainbow Association’ and speculations about the activities of the group’s president, Oyku Erven.

One activist told the Turkish Daily News he had never heard of those living in association accommodation being forced into prostitution.

“But, as they are not given an opportunity in life, they are forced to do this kind of work,” he said.

But another activist, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the reports and expressed concern police would use the case to hinder the activities of other gay rights groups.

The accused continue to remain in detention. Their attorney, Ayse Batumlu, is calling for them to be transferred to court.

Bursa’s public prosecutors office is continuing its investigation.