Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Turkey: Protect Freedom of Association for Gay Rights Activists

Source: Human Rights First

In February 2010, a prominent LGBT rights organization in Turkey may be forced to shut down. The Turkish authorities have been publicly opposed to the organization's work on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals.

The Black Pink Triangle Association of Izmir (Siyah Pembe Üçgen Izmir) is accused of acting illegally and against public morality by refusing to amend its official charter, which affirms the right of LGBT individuals to enjoy a life of peace and equality. Attempts to close gay rights organizations are not new in Turkey. Public officials have unsuccessfully challenged the activities of three groups in courts since 2005.

TAKE ACTION NOW to urge the presiding Judge to impartially adjudicate the motion to close the Black Pink Triangle Association of Izmir.

Background Information

The Black Pink Triangle Association of Izmir (Siyah Pembe Üçgen Izmir), an organization that advocates for the rights of LGBT individuals in Turkey, presented its charter to the Governor of the Province of Izmir in February 2009 for registration. According to the charter, the organization aims to "support all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender men and women to adopt equality as a value, to realize their inner selves and to help bring peace and welfare by developing themselves."

In May 2009, Governor Mustafa Cahit Kirac asked the Black Pink Triangle Association to amend its charter on the grounds that it violated public morality and the structure of the traditional Turkish family. Following the organization's refusal, the Public Prosecutor of Izmir filed a motion on October 16, 2009 to close the Black Pink Triangle Association of Izmir.

The closure of this organization on the grounds of public morality denies LGBT rights advocates the right to freedom of association and goes against Turkey's obligations under international law. Freedom of association is guaranteed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), to which Turkey is a party.

In 2005 and 2006, the government of Ankara unsuccessfully tried to shut down two gay rights organizations, also citing the perceived threats to public morality and family values. In 2008, Turkey's oldest LGBT rights group, Lambda Istanbul, was ordered to disband by a court in Istanbul - thankfully, the decision was successfully appealed and overturned by a higher court.

We are concerned that the Black Pink Triangle Association could be ordered to disband following an upcoming February hearing.

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