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Turkish prosecutor seeks closure of association for organizing LGBTI event

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A Turkish prosecutor has launched legal proceedings against an association, seeking its closure in connection with a LGBTI event it organized, the Kronos news website reported on Tuesday.

The community-centered Association for Supporting the Tarlabaşı Community in İstanbul organized an event titled “How to Protect LGBTI Students from the Grip of Family and School,” which was targeted by the pro-government Milat daily in a smear campaign.

Two separate cases were brought against the association.

The association’s remarks regarding LGBTI+ people were treated as “obscenity” in the prosecutor’s statement, which argued that the event sought to “normalize the sexual tendencies of the people known publicly as LGBTI, and by doing so, influence the gender of children.”

Although homosexuality has been legal throughout modern Turkey’s history, homophobia is widespread and gay people regularly face harassment and abuse.

In a statement the association said they had learned that another case had been brought against them on Feb. 10 when the Milat daily referred to it in a headline.

“The lawsuit has been launched arguing that the association has become ‘unlawful and immoral,’ but none of the acts mentioned in the prosecutor’s statement is enough to close down the association. They include problems in bookkeeping, lack of permission to conduct training activities, failures to notify the public prosecutor about the association’s publications and other things that are punishable only with a fine,” the association said.

In recent recent years, hateful rhetoric and the propagation of homophobic narratives by some politicians and opinion-makers in Turkey have been rising, and impunity for transphobic hate crimes has been another source of concern.

Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, known for his anti-LGBT statements, said in December that LGBT foundations in the country are receiving a significant amount of foreign funding but that they are still unable to corrupt Turkish family values.

In recent years LGBT events have been prohibited, including Istanbul Pride, which was banned in 2014 after taking place every year since 2003.

Hundreds of LGBTI+ people were taken into custody due to attending such rallies as pride marches, demonstrations at İstanbul’s Boğaziçi University, marches held on Women’s Day  and protests against Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, and ill-treatment and torture of LGBTI+ activists has become widespread, according to a report recently published by Kaos GL, one of the oldest LGBTI+ rights groups in Turkey.

Turkey was ranked 48th among 49 countries as regards the human rights of LGBT people, according to the 2021 Rainbow Europe Map published by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)-Europe in May.

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