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Court strikes down ban and makes Prides legal in Turkey’s capital

Court strikes down ban and makes Prides legal in Turkey’s capital

  • Police in Ankara have previously broken up Pride events and arrested activists.
Crowd at METU Pride 2019.

A court has struck down a ban on holding LGBT+ activities including Prides in Ankara, the capital of Turkey.

Turkish LGBT+ organization Kaos GL has said the Second Administrative Court of Ankara has struck down the indefinite ban on LGBT+ activity in the city.

The governor of Ankara claimed they have the right to issue a ban.

But the law they cited says the governor can only ‘adjourn a meeting for a period of one month at most to maintain national security, public order, prevent committing crimes, protect public health, morals and rights and freedoms of others or they may prohibit a meeting in case there is an obvious and close danger of commission of a crime’.

Therefore, the court asked the governor’s office to provide documents of how they justified the ban on these grounds. However, the governor didn’t provide hard evidence.

Police broke up one Pride with tear gas and plastic bullets

In fact, Ankara has seen two separate bans on LGBT+ events. And now both have been struck down by the courts.

Meanwhile, 18 students and an academic are still due to go on trial in Turkey. Authorities charged them with holding a Pride march on their university campus on 10 May 2019. But the courts have delayed the trial under international pressure.

The event at Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara followed a long tradition of large Pride gatherings on the campus. And campaigners insist it was totally legal.

Despite this, they say 50 police broke up the event and even fired tear gas and plastic bullets.

Meanwhile LGBT+ people in Turkey continue to face legal and social challenges.

Same-sex activity is legal and people can officially change their gender in the country. However, there are no anti-discrimination protections or same-sex marriage rights. Moreover, gay and lesbian people are banned from serving in the armed forces.

Discrimination is widespread. However, a 2015 poll indicated 27% of people were in favor of marriage equality and another 19% supported partnership recognition without the right to marry. By contrast, only a quarter of Turkish people oppose all recognition for same-sex couples.