Efforts by Turkish officials to close one of the country’s leading LGBT organisations will have to wait until next year as a judge has ordered that legal experts compile a report.
A department of the Istanbul Governor’s office responsible for non-governmental organisations alleges that the group, Lambda Istanbul, violates Turkish laws on morality.
They claim that Lambda violates both the Penal Code, as an association in violation of “law and morals,” and Article 41 of the Turkish constitution, which is concerned with “the peace and welfare of the family.”
At yesterday’s trial, Lambda’s lawyers presented the court with a report from a legal expert explaining why the group’s work on LGBT rights was not in breach of morality codes.
The judge has ordered the prosecution to prepare a report of their own and the case was adjourned until January 31st 2008.
Lambda’s lawyer, Firat Söyle, told bianet.org he is confident of victory.
“The association is the expression of an organisation, an institution which has been formed in order to make people’s voices heard,” he said.
“The Governor’s ‘moral’ justification can be interpreted very widely, and it is unacceptable in Turkish law and international conventions that a legally formed association could be closed for that reason.”
Government officials have made similar legal moves to shut down other lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organisations in Turkey.
Kaos GL, based in Ankara, faced a demand for closure from Ankara’s deputy governor, Selahattin Ekmenoglu, in 2005. The closure petition was dismissed by prosecutors.
The chairman of Dutch gay rights group COC, Frank van Dalen, says that closing Lambda Istanbul would be against non-discriminatory guidelines issued by the European Union and against the universal right to free speech.
Turkey is a candidate country for EU membership, but concerns about human rights are one factor frustrating negotiations.
The closing of Lambda would be a devastating blow for the European LGBT emancipation movement, according to COC.
Mr Van Dalen called on the Dutch government to not support Turkey’s application for EU membership until basic human rights are fully respected by Turkey.