Turkish university must reverse student Pride march ban, Amnesty says

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)

Amnesty International are leading calls for a banned student Pride event in the Turkish capital, Ankara, to be allowed to take place.

The Pride march, due to be held this Friday (May 10), was recently banned by the university rectorate at the Middle East Technical University (METU).

News of the ban comes despite the general ban on Pride events in Ankara being lifted last month (April).

Many LGBT+ events had been banned since a court ruling in November 2017. The Ankara governorate used powers under the state of emergency – in place since the failed 2016 coup event – to impose an indefinite ban on all public events by LGBT+ organisations in the city. The ruling cited “public safety,” “safeguarding general health and morals” and “safeguarding the rights and freedoms of others.”

Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International’s campaigns director for Europe, said: “For the last eight years students at this university have marched through their campus to celebrate Pride and demand equality and dignity for LGBTI people. It is celebration of love which sends a message of hope to all those struggling to uphold fundamental rights in Turkey and beyond.”

“Rather than banning Pride events, the university should be supporting and protecting such marches and challenging homophobia and transphobia. The Rectorate must reverse its decision and allow students without fear of intimidation or violence,” Filippou added.

Turkish LGBT+ population ‘living in fear’

The blanket ban on LGBT+ events reversed the progressive trend that existed before the attempted coup to counter homophobia and transphobia.

According to the Ministry of Interior’s response in March to a formal information request by the lawyer of KAOS-GL, a LGBT+ rights organisation, there is no general ban on LGBT+ events in Ankara and each application is assessed individually.

Amnesty previously told PinkNews, in 2018, that Turkish LGBT+ people are “living in more fear than ever.”