The contradiction between law and reality: The case of LGBT protection in Turkey

Wael Itani
Staff Writer

The governor of the city of Ankara, the Turkish capital, announced that, “Starting from Nov. 18, 2017, concerning our community’s public sensitivity, any events such as LGBT…cinema, theater, panels, interviews, exhibitions are banned until further notice in our province to provide peace and security,” as Reuters reports.

In an article to CNN, Hande Atay Alam mentions that the governor’s office commented on the ban, indicating that it would help promote “public order, prevention of crime, general health and morals.”

This came three days after the city cancelled a German film festival of a similar theme.

Public sensitivity might seem like a vague term. Apart from the terminology, the “indefinite” period attributed to the ban adds to the ambiguity. Legally speaking, homosexual individuals have ostensibly been protected in Turkey since the inception of the country in 1923. However, The Washington Post describes the situation as “a rising threat.”

On another note, Turkish authorities confiscated an issue of Kaos GL for its explicit content in 2006. At the time, the European Court of Human Rights, according to Hurriyet Daily News, deemed the act as a violation of freedom of expression. For the past two years and rolling, officials have been refusing to authorize the annual pride march.

In June 2017, parade organizers informed CNN that tear gas and rubber pellets were used to break up the crowds, and detained 10 people, including both members of ultranationalist groups attempting to block the parade and parade attendees themselves.

The contradictory status of non-heteronormativity and the LGBT movement in Turkey could perhaps frame the state’s stance as one that is morally acceptable. Many perceive the crackdown to be pertaining to the politics of sexual liberation rather than individual sexuality. Stephen Baskerville details the phenomenon as, “A highly sexualized culture controlled by [those who] have both ideological and pecuniary interests in using sex as a financial tool and a political weapon.”

He continues, “This enlisted the intellectuals and provided a moralistic zeal that diametrically inverted the moral stigma from those who indulged in the sexual freedom to those resisting it, who were then stigmatized as political oppressors.”

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