Turkey’s gays invite world to Pride week

PinkNews Staff Writer June 3, 2008
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The courts may just have ordered them to close down, but Turkey’s leading LGBT group is planning a week-long celebration of gay life.

Lambda Istanbul’s closure was ordered by an Istanbul court last week.

A department of the Istanbul Governor’s office responsible for non-governmental organisations alleged that the group violates Turkish laws on morality.

Despite this legal setback, Rising Rainbow in Istanbul: LGBT Pride Week of Turkey will take place between June 23rd and June 29th.

Activists, artists, politicians and journalists from Turkey and the rest of the world will join in the activities, such as film screenings, forums, parties, concerts, workshops and an LGBT Pride March.

The highlight of Istanbul’s Pride week will be The Genetically Modified Tomato Awards.

Since 2005 they have been given to individuals or institutions that have made homophobic statements during the previous year.

Lambda Istanbul aims to “support all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to adopt equality as a value.” It will appeal the decision to close it down at the Court of Appeal.

If it upholds the ruling they will become the first gay rights group to be closed by any member or candidate member of the European Union.

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

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 President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe last week issued a stark reminder to the Turkish government that freedom of expression and freedom of association are enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, which Turkey has ratified.

Lluis Maria de Puig expressed his “profound concern” after the banning of Lambda Legal.

“The arguments put forward by the prosecutor, reportedly leading to the closure of the association Lambda Istanbul, whose activities were held to infringe the laws on public morality, are puzzling to me,” said Mr de Puig, who is a Spanish Socialist.

“Freedom of expression and freedom of association are enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, which Turkey has ratified as a member of the Council of Europe,” he added.

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