Trial against 19 Turkish LGBT+ activists starts today

Today, 19 Turkish LGBT+ activists will face the beginning of a trial against them. They are being prosecuted for “participating in an unlawful assembly”. The 18 students and one university staff member took part in a Pride-march at a university in the Turkish capital Ankara. Numerous LGBT+ organisations are calling for Turkey to drop the charges.
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The Pride-march took place at the Middle East Technical University campus on the 10th of May this year. 19 participants are now being charged for their participation in the event, leading to anger among numerous human rights organisations. ILGA-Europe, an umbrella organisation for more than 600 LGBT+ organisations in Europe and Central Asia, demands that Turkey should drop the charges immediately. Björn van Roozendaal, Programmes Director for ILGA-Europe, said "The defenders were practising their right to assembly and standing up for the rights of others in a peaceful manner when the police attacked and arrested them. No one should be prosecuted for exercising their right to peaceful assembly.” ILGA-Europe wants the Turkish authorities to investigate the use of force by the police, “instead of prosecuting the human rights defenders.”

Amnesty International criticized the Turkish police and the university authorities on the day of the arrest. Fotis Filippou, Campaigns Director for Europe at Amnesty International, then said: “It is heart-breaking to hear that today’s Pride march, which should have been a celebration of love and solidarity, was so violently broken up by police using pepper spray, plastic bullets and tear gas. It is a dark day when university authorities call the police to silence students who are simply demanding their rights to dignity and equality.”

Due to a ban on LGBT+ activities in Ankara, the university sent their staff and students an email, which forbid the Pride march. The march has been organised annually since 2011. When some students showed up, the police came to action. 19 out of the 22 are now being charged for “participating in an unlawful assembly” and “resisting despite warning”.

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