Turkish gay group court challenge delayed

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A group of supporters of a gay rights group threatened with closure have been accused of demonstrating outside a Turkish court.

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 a hearing last October 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 then ordered the prosecution to prepare a report of their own and the case was adjourned until last Thursday.

The report was not ready, and the case has been adjourned until 6th March.

A group of about 40 Lambda Istanbul supporters were present at the court. They were searched by police.

“During the hearing, the judge claimed that a crowded group had done a demonstration, opened banners, forcing the windows and the doors and showed resistance to the police and asked the lawyers to warn the members of the association,” a Lambda Istanbul spokesman told PinkNews.co.uk.

“The lawyers tried to explain to the judge that there has been no such thing, and if there had been, that the prosecutor and the police were present and that they would have interfered and kept a record of this, yet there was no such document.

“But the judge insisted on his claim and said that this was considered influencing the jurisdiction and therefore was a crime.

“So, overall, we can say that the commonplace homo/transphobia took place at the court again.”

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 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 has called on the Dutch government to not support Turkey’s application for EU membership until “basic human rights are fully respected by Turkey.”