Government bans LGBT event in Istanbul

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JUNE 25: LGBT supporters march towards Taksim Square on June 25, 2017 in Istanbul, Turkey. The 2017 LGBT Pride March was banned by authorities for the third year. Organisers defied the order and people attempted to march to Taksim Square but were met by a heavy police presence and the crowd was dispersed by tear gas and several people were arrested. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

A Turkish district government in Istanbul has banned an LGBT event that was scheduled to take place tomorrow, saying it posed risks to public safety.

A film screening, along with interviews and discussion, were planned for Saturday.

The governor’s office of the Beyoglu district said the event would “not be allowed in order to secure public order and safety, to protect the rights and freedom of other people and to prevent crime,” according to Reuters.

A statement from the venue where the film had been supposed to take place followed, saying the event had been postponed.

Ankara, the capital of Turkey, last week banned a German gay film festival just days before it was scheduled, citing the same concerns of public safety.

They then went on to ban all LGBT events in the city.

They said they were concerned for the “community’s public sensitivity,” and wanted to “provide peace and security.”
“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.

The ban violates the Turkish constitution, which says the state must “strive for the removal of political, economic, and social obstacles which restrict the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual.”

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

An LGBT activist is kicked by a plain-clothed police officer at banned Istanbul Pride 2017 (Photo by BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Concerns about the suppression of LGBT events in Turkey have been growing over the past years.

The last successful Pride 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.

The event was heavily criticised as it overlapped with Ramadan that year.

This summer, Istanbul LGBT Pride was cancelled last minute, and when people marched anyway, tear gas and dogs were used to disperse the crowd.

When a similar thing happened to the Transgender Pride March, seven people were detained for their involvement.

The UK government refused to be explicit in its condemnation of the violence.

He said: “We regularly discuss freedom of expression and assembly with the Turkish Government and have made clear our support to the LGBTI community in Turkey,” Foreign Office minister Lord Ahmad said.