Turkey bans German gay film festival citing public safety concerns

An LGBT activist is kicked by a plain-clothed police officer at banned Istanbul Pride 2017

A German gay film festival has been banned from taking place in Turkey.

The Governor’s office in Ankara on Wednesday banned the festival which was set to take place this weekend.

The festival would have seen four films by German directors over 16-17 November.

The Governor’s office cited fears of terrorism and public safety concerns.

Trans flag

“Considering that the content could incite grudges and enmity toward a part of society… and the intelligence reports that terror organizations are seeking to attack dissentient groups or individuals, it is evaluated that this film screening could be provocative and draw reactions,” said the Ankara governor’s office in a statement.

Earlier this year, a Pride event was cancelled for the second consecutive year, and when demonstrators took to the streets anyway, several were detained by authorities.

Seven transgender activists were detained in Istanbul after they staged a trans Pride event despite authorities banning it.

The Istanbul’s governor office banned the Pride event late on Saturday evening to “preserve public order and keep tourists and participants safe”.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at Pride marchers who rallied at the cancelled event in 2015

It came after a separate Pride event was cancelled last weekend and resulted in Turkish police using rubber bullets and tear gas on rallies.

It’s believed that ultranationalist groups threatened the trans march, which the governors office described as “very serious reactions”.

Istanbul LGBTI, who organised the 8th annual Trans Pride March, said that they would not recognised the ban that was imposed.

“We are trans, we are here, get used to it, we are not leaving,” they said in a statement on Facebook.

They also announced on social media that they intended to meet at Taksim Square for the event.

A water cannon was sent to the area but it was not used on activists.

Last Sunday rubber bullets were fired at a group of an estimated 40 people who rallied for the LGBT Pride march.

It was the second year in a row that authorities cancelled the event, but activists still attempted to attend.

It is believed that a number of lawyers working in conjunction with the organisers of the march were temporarily detained.

Pride rallies have been organised for the last 13 years in Istanbul.

The last successful march was held in 2014 with an estimated 100,000 people turning out for one of the largest LGBT celebrations in a Muslim majority country.

In 2015 the march was cancelled citing a “flagrant violation of the constitution and the law” but a number of marchers defied authorities and gathered anyway. However, they were dispersed by police using tear gas and rubber bullets.

2016’s Pride event was also cancelled, citing a Government ban and security concerns.

They claimed that the concerns stemmed from the Orlando massacre which left 49 people dead.

Defiant activists once again took to the streets but over 300 riot officers and a water cannon were deployed to break up the event.