Turkey: Another LGBT rights organization faces closure

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Bird of Paradox / Wordpress

Black Pink Triangle Association in Izmir is the fifth LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) organisation that faces closure by the Turkish government. The first hearing will take place on February 19, 2010. The threat of closure comes in the wake of accusations that the organisation is “against the law and morality.”

According to the information provided to the association, the Governor’s Office of the City of Izmir is demanding closure of the Black Pink Triangle Association.

Black Pink Triangle Association members stated that: “The prosecutor’s demand for closure of our association is clearly a violation of civil rights. Establishing an organization a constitutional right and they want to take that right from us.”

When Black Pink Triangle Association was founded on February 20, 2009, all the necessary legal documentation was filed to the Governor’s Office.

On May 26, 2009 the association received a notification from Governor’s Office requesting the organization to correct some of the mistakes on the application form. However the Governor’s Office also demanded correction of some of the founding statutes of Black Pink Triangle Association claiming that the association’s objections are against Turkish “moral values and family structure”.

Although the mistakes in the application form were corrected, the Association refused to change the statutes as per Governor’s request. They also stated that Kaos GL (an LGBT organization in Ankara) and Lambda Istanbul (an LGBT organization in Istanbul) have exact same statutes and after long legal battles they were able to exist as legal and legitimate institutions.

On October 16, 2009, following the receipt of Black Pink Triangle Association’s response, Governor’s Office filed a lawsuit against them and demanded closure of the institution.

Black Pink Triangle Association’s lawyer Elif Ceylan Ozsoy stated to Kaos GL that she found the action disturbing. She also pointed out the similar actions were taken against Kaos GL, Pink Life and Lambda Istanbul organizations and they failed.

Turkish authorities have targeted other LGBT organizations in the past as well:

In September 2005, the Ankara Governor’s Office accused the Ankara-based group KAOS-GL of “establishing an organization that is against the laws and principles of morality.” Similarly, the Ankara Governor’s Office attempted in July 2006 to close the human rights group Pembe Hayat (Pink Life), which works with transgender people, claiming to prosecutors that the association opposed “morality and family structure.” In both cases, prosecutors dropped the charges.

In another series of legal attacks on LGBT organizations and publications in Turkey, on May 29, 2008 a court in Istanbul, the nation’s largest city, ordered the dissolution of Lambda Istanbul. Founded in 1993, the group is Turkey’s oldest LGBT organization, and has organized Gay Pride marches in that city every year since 2003. On January 2009, the 7th Judicial Office of the Supreme Court of Appeals has overturned the ruling of Istanbul’s 3rd Civil Court of First Instance, which had decided to close down the Lambda Istanbul Association for a “violation of general morals.