Turkey’s capital Ankara has banned the public showing of films and exhibitions related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues, the governor’s office said on Sunday (Nov 19), citing public sensitivity.

The move is likely to deepen concern among Civil and Human rights activists and Turkey’s Western allies about its record on civil liberties under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK Party.

“Starting from Nov 18, 2017, concerning our community’s public sensitivity, any events such as LGBT… cinema, theatre, panels, interviews, exhibitions are banned until further notice in our province to provide peace and security,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

The Statement also said that such exhibitions could cause different groups in society to “publicly harbour hatred and hostility” toward each other and therefore pose a risk to public safety.

Authorities in Ankara had already banned a German gay film festival on Wednesday, the day before it was due to start, citing public safety and terrorism risks.

In addition, gay pride parades have been banned in Istanbul for the last two years running. Unlike in many Muslim countries, homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, but there is widespread hostility to it.

 

 

Civil liberties in Turkey have become a particular concern for the West following the attempted military coup in July 2016. Since then, more than 50,000 people have been jailed pending trial on suspicion of links to the coup including human rights lawyers says Amnesty International. Some 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from their jobs.

Human rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies fear Mr Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to quash his opponents or anyone who he thinks of as an opposition to the growing paranoia of the leader. Ankara says the measures are necessary, given the extent of the security threat it faces.

 

In other news: Attacks on LGBT Rally, St Petersburg limits free assembly