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Turkey: Ban on LGBTI Group Gatherings in Capital Province

(Dec. 27, 2017) A press release issued on November 19, 2017, by the Governorship of Ankara Province in Turkey announced an indefinite ban as of November 18 on certain events held by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) non-governmental organizations. (Yasaklama Kararına Iliskin Basin Duyurusu [Press Release Regarding Prohibition Decision] (Press Release), Ankara Governorship website (Nov. 19, 2017); Akira Tomlinson, Turkish Officials Ban LGTBI Group Events, PAPER CHASE (Nov. 20, 2017).)

According to the press release, there was a possibility that people with different characteristics in terms of social class, race, religion, or regions would incite hatred and hostility in one group towards another social group, giving rise to dangerous situations in terms of public security; the protection of the rights and freedoms of the groups and individuals who participate in the organizations’ events might be jeopardized; and some social groups could react and cause provocations because of certain social sensitivities. (Press Release, supra.) Therefore, the press release stated, in order to take the necessary precautions to ensure peace and security and personal and public immunity, safety, and security within the boundaries of the province, events held by LGBT/LGBTI organizations in various places of the province, e.g., at the cinema, theater, panels, interviews, exhibitions, etc., on some socially sensitive issues would be banned. The prohibition is in accordance with article 11(c) of the Provincial Administration Law No. 5442, article 17 of the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations No 2911, and article 11(f) of the Law on State of Emergency No 2935, the press release said. (Id.)

Legal Basis for the Ban

Article 11(c) of the Provincial Administration Law states that the governor has the authority to take the decisions and measures necessary to ensure peace and security within the borders of the province, protection of the immunity of the person, guarding of the safety of the person, the provision of public welfare, and preventive law enforcement. (Il i̇daresi̇ kanunu [Provincial Administrative Law], Law No. 5442 (June 10, 1949, as last amended effective Apr. 29, 2017), art. 11c, MEVZUAT.)

Article 17 of the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations states that a governor may postpone a particular meeting from being held for a period of not more than one month in order to protect national security, public order, crime prevention, general health, and general morals or the rights and freedoms of others, or ban the meeting from being held if there is a clear and immediate danger that criminal offenses will be committed. (Toplanti ve Gösteri̇ Yürüyüşleri̇ Kanunu [Law on Meetings and Demonstrations], Law No. 2911 (Oct. 6, 1983, as last amended effective Jan. 6, 2017).)

Finally, article 11 of the Law on the State of Emergency provides that when there is a state of emergency, certain additional measures, beyond those prescribed elsewhere in the Law, may be taken to protect general security and public order and to prevent the spread of violence, including “control and, if deemed necessary, restriction or prohibition of every kind of broadcasting and dissemination of words, writings, pictures, films, records, sound and image bands (tapes).” (State of Emergency Act (October 1983), art. 11(f), LEGISLATIONLINE; Olaganüstü Hal Kanunu [Law on State of Emergency], Law No. 2935 (Oct. 25, 1983, as last amended effective May 3, 2013), art. 11(f), MEVZUAT.) While the press release refers to events, not to publications or broadcasts specifically, presumably this provision of law applies because of the films, words, etc., that would be disseminated through those events.