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Turkish authorities intensify ban on exercise of freedom of assembly by LGBTI people

Written declaration No. 619 | Doc. 14178 | 13 October 2016

Mr Jonas GUNNARSSON, Sweden, SOC ; Ms Boriana ÅBERG, Sweden, EPP/CD ; Lord Donald ANDERSON, United Kingdom, SOC ; Ms Gülsün BİLGEHAN, Turkey, SOC ; Mr Tobias BILLSTRÖM, Sweden, EPP/CD ; Ms Sílvia Eloïsa BONET, Andorra, SOC ; Ms Anne BRASSEUR, Luxembourg, ALDE ; Mr Piet De BRUYN, Belgium, NR ; Ms Elena CENTEMERO, Italy, EPP/CD ; Mr José CEPEDA, Spain, SOC ; Mr Boriss CILEVIČS, Latvia, SOC ; Mr Alain DESTEXHE, Belgium, ALDE ; Mr Constantinos EFSTATHIOU, Cyprus, SOC ; Ms Doris FIALA, Switzerland, ALDE ; Lord George FOULKES, United Kingdom, SOC ; Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ, Switzerland, SOC ; Ms Tina GHASEMI, Sweden, EPP/CD ; Mr Antonio GUTIÉRREZ, Spain, SOC ; Ms Alice-Mary HIGGINS, Ireland, NR ; Ms Susanna HUOVINEN, Finland, SOC ; Ms Eva-Lena JANSSON, Sweden, SOC ; Mr Mogens JENSEN, Denmark, SOC ; Ms Lotta JOHNSSON FORNARVE, Sweden, UEL ; Mr Niklas KARLSSON, Sweden, SOC ; Mr Tiny KOX, Netherlands, UEL ; Ms Kerstin LUNDGREN, Sweden, ALDE ; Mr Dirk Van der MAELEN, Belgium, SOC ; Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER, Switzerland, SOC ; Sir Alan MEALE, United Kingdom, SOC ; Mr Attila MESTERHÁZY, Hungary, SOC ; Ms Carina OHLSSON, Sweden, SOC ; Mr Virendra SHARMA, United Kingdom, SOC ; Ms Maria Edera SPADONI, Italy, NR ; Ms Tineke STRIK, Netherlands, SOC ; Ms Petra De SUTTER, Belgium, SOC ; Mr Manuel TORNARE, Switzerland, SOC ; Mr Jordi XUCLÀ, Spain, ALDE

In recent months the Turkish authorities have banned four freedom of assembly events in support of the rights of LGBTI people in Ankara, Izmir and Istanbul. In the case of events in Istanbul on 19 and 26 June the organisers’ attempts to make statements in public to the press following the bans were met with a violent response by the police, including rubber bullets, tear gas and arrests.

The authorities have justified the bans on various grounds, particularly security and “social sensibilities”. In some cases the bans were preceded by homophobic and transphobic hate speech by extremist groups, to which the authorities have failed to respond either through public repudiation or legal action.

These developments follow the banning and violent suppression of the 2015 Istanbul Pride march. Prior to that event successful Pride marches had been held peacefully in the city for many years.

We consider these bans a serious violation of the right to freedom of assembly. LGBTI people should have the freedom to march and spread the message of equality, tolerance and non-discrimination without fear of suppression by the authorities. We call on the Turkish authorities to protect, not ban, Pride marches.