Turkish court orders yet another LGBT organisation to close

January 5, 2011

n the second of January 2011 the criminal court of Bursa, Turkey ordered the closure of LGBT organisation ‘RAINBOW’. This following a suit brought on by the Bursa municipality dating back to 2008. The Bursa municipality has been harassing ‘RAINBOW’ since early 2007 complaining that the organisation was engaging in ‘illegal activities’ such as prostitution and have previously made claims that the organisation in itself was ‘immoral’.

RAINBOW’ activists have already commented that the organisation will appeal against the court decision. In addition they stated that they were prepared to found a new organisation if the appeal would not be upheld. The organisation will also continue working during the appeal procedure since ‘RAINBOW’ is the only organisation in Bursa working with and for LGBT people in the area.

Court cases brought against LGBT organisations are not uncommon in Turkey citing reasons like ‘fuelling immorality’, ‘going against Turkish identity’, ‘housing illegal activities’ and ‘violating values and family structures’. Lambda (Istanbul), Kaos GL (Ankara) and Black Pink Triangle (Izmir) being the three biggest LGBT organisations in Turkey have been consistently taken to court since 2005.But only after several years of uncertainty and through appeals have they managed to win the court battles against shutting down their crucial work..

Turkey, being a member state of the Council of Europe and part of the United Nations, has signed both the ‘European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms’ and the ‘International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’. These treaties protect the rights to freedom of organisation and prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Turkish Parliamentary commission on Human Rights has pledged in the past to propose a bill to uphold these rights but has yet to act upon their promise. After these crackdowns on LGBT organisations this is proving to be of critical importance. We call upon the Turkish Government to take all necessary measures to propose and pass immediately a bill to uphold the aforementioned rights and cease harassment of LGBT citizens and their organisations. GME has informed IGLHRC and Amnesty International.

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