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"Stifling LGBTI organisations’ free expression is harmful and a breach of fundamental rights"

“The decision of the Ankara Governor’s Office in mid-November to ban indefinitely all events organised by LGBTI organisations within the province is stifling all forms of expression of LGBTI people, in clear conflict with Turkey’s human rights obligations,” said Piet De Bruyn, the Parliamentary Assembly’s General Rapporteur on the rights of LGBTI people, today. “Not only have all public meetings and artistic events organised by LGBTI associations been stopped in Ankara, but within the few short weeks since this ban was imposed, other local authorities have banned similar events and homophobic and transphobic hate speech have flourished.”

“As the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights has also recently emphasised, the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees the fundamental rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, even where their exercise may offend some segments of society. The European Court of Human Rights has moreover repeatedly found violations of the Convention where bans have been imposed on LGBTI events or on the publication of material concerning the situation or rights of LGBTI people,” he noted.

“I call on the Turkish authorities to ensure that the human rights of LGBTI people are upheld throughout its territory and that any decisions taken at local or regional level in breach of these rights are immediately overturned,” he concluded.