Turkey’s Capital City Has Banned All Public ‘Gay Events’

In the latest of Turkey’s escalating anti-gay actions, the capital city of Ankara has announced a ban on all public “gay events” including film festivals and theater performances that contain LGBT themes.

According to the BBC, “["From Saturday] 18 November until further notice, all film and theater events, screenings, panels, colloquium, exhibitions, etc… have been banned,” the city administration said on its website.”

This comes after Ankara’s officials banned the staging of a German gay film festival within the city, which officials claimed, was a decision to ensure “public safety.”

Homosexuality is not banned in Turkey, and has in fact been legal since the modern republic’s inception in 1923. But as with many places in the world, while homosexuality may technically be legal, there remains a strong social taboo against same-gender relationships.

As part of Turkey’s ascent towards EU membership, the country once appeared to be going through a sea change, putting in place several measures that were designed to curb anti-LGBT prejudices.

However, in recent years, that progress seems to have stopped — if not begun to reverse. Istanbul’s Pride event — a popular draw for not just the people of Turkey, but also for tourists — has been blocked for the past three years, supposedly due to fears of terrorist activity and an inability to guarantee the safety of attendees.

However, the last time the Pride event was held, it was police aggression that appeared to be the major threat. In June of 2017, over 20 people were arrested after attending an unauthorized march.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has been a frequent cause for concern as it has ramped up restrictions around morals and so-called “acceptable” conduct. In 2013, Erdogan’s “morality police” began challenging a number of public actions, including male and female students sharing housing. Since that time, senior officials make a number of bizarre, pseudo-religious claims.

In 2014 then-Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç bemoaned television for supposedly turning Turkey’s teenagers into a generation of sex addicts. He has also contended that women should not laugh in public but when confronted by men should “blush” and turn away their gaze.

Unfortunately, while these particular comments are not reflective of specific policy matters, they do illustrate a wider turn toward conservative Islam and its encroachment on secular life. 

For example, compulsory religious classes have begun popping up throughout Turkey. And while court challenges appear to be succeeding at fighting back against this kind of indoctrination, that will heavily depend on who makes up the judiciary in the future.

There is a definite whiff of moralizing in this latest action to curb the gay film festival, with Ankara officials reportedly saying that the ban, which will run for an indefinite period, will protect “public order, prevention of crime, general health and morals.”

As the festival’s organizers, note, this kind of rhetoric is not about protecting LGBT people but is instead aimed to minimize their visibility in society and curtail their freedom of speech.

“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,” Pink Note explained. ”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.”

Analysts remain concerned that this turn toward religious conservatism in what was once a definably secular nation could be terrible news for minorities of all stripes — especially the LGBT community.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.

49 comments

Stephanie s
Stephanie s20 hours ago

Shame on you Turkey.

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s20 hours ago

Shame on you Turkey.

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Graham P
Graham P4 days ago

Religion rears it's ugly head again in answer to your question Freya H.

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Freya H
Freya H6 days ago

I visited Turkey years ago and found it a great country. Not that I would have been keen on living there (except in a pinch), but it came across as civilized and fairly open. What has happened to Turkey lately? Seems as though right-wing bugnuts are gaining power everywhere.

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s18 days ago

Shame on you Turkey.

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Peggy B
Peggy B19 days ago

Opps, I spelled it wrong.

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Peggy B
Peggy B19 days ago

IGNRANCE

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Danuta W
Danuta W20 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Debbi Wood
Debbi Wood20 days ago

There are bigots all around the world. After hearing this Dumfutz will probably reach out to the mayor or who ever in Ankara is as much a bigot as he is. I hope there are protests there. Being condemned for who were born as is contemptible and cruel.

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Peggy B
Peggy B20 days ago

tyfs

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