The governor of Turkey’s capital, Ankara, has banned all public events relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues, citing fears they could “provoke hatred and hostility.”
The ban covers events including film festivals, forums, interviews and exhibitions, according to the city’s governor.
In a written statement Sunday, Ankara governor Mehmet Kiliclar said that LGBT events could interfere with “public security” and were being banned because of “social sensitivities.”
The governor’s office said the ban would help to promote “public order, prevention of crime, general health and morals.”
Unlike in many other Muslim countries, homosexuality is legal in Turkey, but activists say members of the LGBT community are often subjected to widespread hostility and homophobia.
Last Wednesday, authorities in Ankara banned a German gay film festival that had been due to open the next day, citing public safety concerns.
‘Illegal’ and ‘discriminatory’
Responding to the ban, two gay rights groups in Turkey described it as “illegal, discriminatory and arbitrary” in a joint statement on Monday.
Ankara-based LGBTI organizations Pink Life and Kaos GL said the language used in the governor’s ban was too broad and it violated Turkey’s constitution.
“Ankara governor’s office’s grounds for the omnibus ban, including the phrases ‘protecting public health and morality,’ ‘social sensibilities and sensitivities,’ ‘public security’ and ‘protection of other people’s rights and liberties’ are clearly discriminatory. This decision legitimizes rights violations and discrimination against LGBTIs,” the joint statement said.
It added: “In our country where discrimination and hate based on sexual orientation and gender identity is rampant, it is the duty of national and local administrations to combat this discrimination and hate.”
Homosexuality has been legal in Turkey since 1923 but the country has one of the worst records of human rights violations against LGBTQ people in Europe, and Turkey’s LGBTQ community has been increasingly vocal about violence against members of the community.
Istanbul police used tear gas and rubber pellets on LGBTQ supporters who took to that city’s streets in June in defiance of a ban on the Gay Pride Festival and Parade.
It was the third year the Istanbul governor had banned the rally.
“The march will not be allowed for the safety of our citizens, first and foremost the participants, and tourists who are in the area visiting,” the governorship said in a statement this year.
CNN’s Gul Tuysuz contributed to this report.