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Court lifts ban on LGBT Pride events in Ankara

The 17-month ban was originally imposed using powers granted by the post-2016 state of emergency
LGBT rights activists chant slogans during a march on 1 July 2018 in Istanbul, after Turkish authorities banned the annual Gay Pride Parade for the fourth year in a row (AFP)

A ban on LGBT events in the Turkish capital Ankara has been lifted, following a decision by the 12th administrative court, a rights group announced on Friday.

The ban, which was imposed in November 2017 using legislation brought in by the state of emergency that was imposed following the July 2016 coup attempt, had been the subject of an appeal by the Turkish LGBT rights group Kaos GL.

Although an initial appeal to the court was rejected in November 2018, on Friday it was announced that an appeal had been successful.

“We can say that the court has accepted our arguments that we have advocated since the day when the ban has declared," said Kaos GL's lawyer, Hayriye Kara, in a statement. "Instead of banning fundamental rights and freedoms to protect social peace, they said that the group that is vulnerable to any attack should be protected." 

"It can be said that the court ruled that the state must protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of LGBTI+s”.

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Although homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, homophobic attitudes persist, and in recent years Istanbul and Ankara have used emergency powers to ban the annual Gay Pride and Trans Pride marches in the cities.

Activists have persisted with attempting to hold the annual marches in Ankara and Istanbul - where it had been regularly held since 2003 - but have faced mass arrests, beatings and tear gas from the police.

'With pride season approaching next month we celebrate this significant court ruling'

- Fotis Filippou, Amnesty

Far-right groups also regularly issue threats to attack LGBT groups.

Amnesty International welcomed the move in Ankara.

"This is a momentous day for LGBTI people in Turkey and a huge victory for the LGBTI rights activists – love has won once again," said Fotis Filippou, campaigns director for Europe at Amnesty International.

"LGBTI people and their allies were scandalously and unlawfully banned from holding any LGBTI related events since November 2017. With Pride season approaching next month we celebrate this significant court ruling.”

The governor's office originally said the ban was imposed because LGBT events could "provoke reactions within certain segments".

They also warned they were at risk of being targeted by "terrorists".

The governor of Ankara is appointed by the president, as opposed to the mayor, who is elected.

Both Ankara and Istanbul's mayoralties had been controlled by members of the ruling conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) since 1994.

However, both have now been taken by candidates from the Republican People's Party (CHP), which is relatively supportive of LGBT rights.

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