Friday, 7 January 2011

Yet more legal action against Turkish LGBT

Source: BİA News Center

By Emir Çelik

A court in Bursa decided for the closure of the Rainbow LGBT Association. The case was opened two years ago upon the complaint of the Bursa Governorship. Association President Özen commented, "This is a deplorable decision, but our struggle will not cease".

The 12th Criminal Court of First Instance of Bursa (north-western Turkey) decided to close the Rainbow ('Gökkuşağı') Association down. Rainbow is the Association for the Development of Protection, Solidarity and Cultural Activities for Transvestites, Transsexuals, Gays and Lesbians (LGBT).

The Bursa Governorship had filed a criminal complaint about the LGBT organization because of alleged "prostitution". It was now learned that the Bursa court brought the case to an end after a two-year trial period with the decision to ban the association.

As reported by the Bursa Olay Newspaper on 3 January, Rainbow Association President Öykü Evren Özen said in the final hearing, "No illegal activities of any kind have been carried out within the association. I reject all charges". Özen was facing imprisonment of up to three years under charges of "opposing the Law on Associations" but was eventually acquitted.

In a press release subsequent to the hearing, Özen said that they were sorry about the decision and that they would file an appeal against it. He added that the association would remain open during the period of appeal. "If the decision should be upheld, we will open a new association. Our struggle will never cease", he indicated.

The association was raided by the police in 2007 upon the complaint of the governorship. 16 people were taken into custody. The association was not able to run a café because the official licence was denied. Lawyer Esra Yener told bianet that even if association members were engaged in sex work outside the association, it would be contrary to the law to associate their activities with the organization.

The Governorship had previously applied for the closure of the association, putting forward that it was "opposing the law and moral". However, Public Prosecutor Nazmi Güven decided against a prosecution of the association saying, "Homosexuality is not a crime. According to the European Convention on Human Rights, there is no need for a prosecution".

Several trials have been opened against LGBT associations such as LambdaIstanbul, the Black Pink Triangle and other organizations in various cities with the demand to close the organizations down.
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