Current Affairs

Gay protest in Turkey makes the news in Iran

Tony Grew May 19, 2008
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The state broadcaster of the Islamic Republic of Iran has reported on an International Day Against Homophobia event in Turkey.


As reported by last week, Michael Cashman MEP joined authors, journalists and human rights defenders on a march against homophobia and transphobia in Ankara on Saturday.


Mr Cashman is one of only two out gay MEPs in the 785-member European Parliament.


The march started at the Human Rights Monument in the Turkish capital and ended at the National Assembly.


It was the first International Day Against Homophobia march in Ankara.


“Until recent years, due to cultural and social norms of the Turkish society which opposes sexual deviation, homosexuals used to keep a low profile in the country,” said a report on official website of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).


“However, in the past two years, members of this group are trying to organise and establish themselves through gatherings and publications.


“Meanwhile, some Turkish media have helped the social acceptance of homosexuals by trying to portray the sexual deviation as a normal behaviour.”

Iran is one of a handful of countries that executes people, including minors, for consenting homosexual acts.

Human rights groups claim that as many as 4,000 gay men and lesbians have been executed as a result of their sexual orientation since the Islamic revolution in 1979.


Gay groups in Turkey, a secular Islamic state, have faced court action in recent years as the country, which is a candidate for European Union membership, grapples with LGBT rights.


Last month police officers in Turkey raided the offices of a leading LGBT organisation on the pretence that “frequent visits by transgender people” were grounds to issue a search warrant.


Lawyers for the Lambda Istanbul Cultural Centre later discovered that an accusation had been lodged against the association for “participating in illegal prostitution activities, procuring transgender sex workers and sharing their earnings.”


More than a dozen plainclothes officers spent two hours at the centre.


Government officials have made similar legal moves to shut down lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organisations in Turkey but failed.


Kaos GL faced a demand for closure from Ankara’s deputy governor, Selahattin Ekmenoglu, in 2005. The closure petition was dismissed by prosecutors.


Turkey is a candidate country for EU membership, but concerns about human rights are one factor frustrating negotiations.


The chairman of Netherlands gay rights group COC, Frank van Dalen, has called on the Dutch government to not support their application for EU membership until “basic human rights are fully respected by Turkey.”


The UK is a vocal supporter of Turkish membership.

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