18 November 2008
Turkey urged to respect LGBT people's right to freedom of association
People participating in the Gay Pride march in Beyoglu, Istanbul, 4 July 2008.Turkish Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender solidarity organisation Lambda Istanbul's appeal against the closure of their association will be considered at the Supreme Court of Appeals in Ankara on Tuesday 25 November.

On 29 May 2008, a local court in Istanbul ordered the closure of the association, following a complaint by the Istanbul Governor's Office that Lambda Istanbul's objectives were against Turkish "moral values and family structure".

Turkish authorities have targeted other LGBT organizations in recent years. 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 that the association opposed "morality and family structure." In both cases, prosecutors dropped the charges.

Amnesty International considers that closure of or attempts to close organizations on the basis of advocating for the rights of persons with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities violate the right to freedom of association, and are discriminatory.

The prosecution of Lambda Istanbul underlines the need for a comprehensive non-discrimination law which includes specific protections against unequal treatment based on sexual orientation and gender identity in all areas of life.

"The prosecution of Lambda Istanbul is a test case for freedom of association and non-discrimination in Turkey" said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International's researcher on Turkey.

Amnesty International is calling on people to write to Beşir Atalay, the Minister of Interior:
  • reminding him of his duty to ensure the respect and protection of the rights of all persons to freedom of association, without discrimination including on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity; in particular, in the words of the Yogyakarta principle 20:  “to ensure the rights to peacefully organise, associate, assemble and advocate around issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, and to obtain legal recognition for such associations and groups”;
  • urging him to ensure that notions of public order, public morality, public health and public security are not employed to restrict any exercise of the rights to peaceful association solely on the basis that the association affirms diverse sexual orientations or gender identities;
  • asking him to support a comprehensive non-discrimination law which includes specific protections against unequal treatment based on sexual orientation and gender identity in all areas of life;
  • asking him to remind provincial governorships and their association directorates of their obligation to respect and protect the rights of all persons to freedom of association, without discrimination, including on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, and to take measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination on grounds of  sexual orientation and gender identity.
Take ActionPlease show your solidarity by taking action in advance of Lambda Istanbul's appeal.
Photo: People participating in the Gay Pride march in Beyoglu, Istanbul, 4 July 2008. © Yasemind
828
Actions taken

Take Action

Appeal for Action

Take Action

Respect the right to freedom of association

Dear Minister,
I am writing to you in view of your responsibility to ensure the right to freedom of association of all persons in Turkey without discrimination, including on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
I am concerned and disappointed about the criminal complaint issued by the Istanbul Governor’s office that resulted in a court order to close Lambda Istanbul, a solidarity organization that defends the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, on grounds of “public morals”. I understand that an appeal against this ruling is currently pending.
I ask you to take all necessary measures to ensure that the Law on Associations is applied in a manner which ensures the protection of peaceful activities in defence of human rights including the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. Such action should ensure that the public morals exception to the law is not employed in a manner which restricts any peaceful exercise of the right to association solely on the basis that the association advocates on behalf of and/or affirms diverse sexual orientations or gender identities.
To this end, I urge you to take all necessary measures to ensure that the local and regional authorities throughout Turkey, including their association directorates, ensure the rights of persons to peacefully organize, associate, assemble and advocate around issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, and to obtain legal recognition for such associations and groups.
Furthermore, I ask you to support a comprehensive non-discrimination law which includes specific protections against unequal treatment based on sexual orientation and gender identity in all areas of life.

Sign your name

Comment

To contribute comments on the Activism Center you must be signed in. Be the first to comment

Register now for your Activism profile on amnesty.org

The profile enables you to...

  • Comment and engage with a wide range of human rights debates, activism, stories and blogs
  • Control your anonymity and privacy settings
  • Ensure your voice contributes to our campaigns
  • Record and share your activity
  • Timely on and offline activism opportunities and news alerts
  • Twitter and Facebook integration coming soon


Why wait? Human rights is nothing without you    Register now »
663,109
Total Actions taken
by people like you