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Social Policies, Sexual Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (SPoD) Communication Co-Coordinator Serdar Ocaksönmez has evaluated the bans against LGBTI events to bianet.
Ocaksönmez said that the bans are not merely a ban of film screening but they are sort of practices that criminalize the LGBTI, and that subsequent bans and preclusions worry them as well as the LGBTI+ movement in general.
“We feel threatened with the existence of groups that target us through hate speech”, said Ocaksönmez and called all rights defenders for solidarity.
“A ban that criminalizes existence”
What do you think about the indefinite ban in Ankara?
The ban in Ankara is not merely a ban on a film screening, it limits our range of actions. The words “public sensitivity” and “morality” in the decision are very worrying. This decision criminalizes the very existence and identity of the LGBTI+ individuals over “public sensitivity” and “morality”. When we think in the long term, this is a decision that will directly affect and damage the existence of the LGBTI+ associations that operate there. I see this as a strategic decision as it was issued in the capital, Ankara.
“The bans in other cities are not coincidental”
Are you observing the effects of this ban in other cities as well?
We observe that the ban occurs differently in different cities. We see that an event planned to be held in Mardin prior to the bans in Ankara was cancelled after it was targeted through hate speech; another event in Bursa was cancelled by the police and finally, an LGBTI+ film screening in İstanbul was banned by Beyoğlu sub-Governorship. We cannot see these bans as coincidental and separate.
“We feel threatened”
Have the bans affected SPoD’s activities?
Even though it hasn’t affected our activities directly, there is the possibility that it spreads all over the country including İstanbul. We have been psychologically affected like the LGBTI+ movement. We are worried that our present and future activities might be banned. Besides, we feel threatened with the existence of a community that targets us by generating hate speech.
“We are observing the lawsuit”
Are you receiving applications, questions etc. from other local organizations and activists concerning this ban and other ban attempts in other cities?
We are in contact with other organizations in Ankara. We keep monitoring the lawsuit to stop the execution of the decision brought by Kaos GL and Pembe Hayat (Pink Life) organizations. We also try to obtain as much information as possible about the other bans and interventions.
“The bans are an attitude against the LGBTI+ movement growing”
Do you think that the ban in Ankara may spread to other cities?
The truth is, we didn’t foresee such a ban. Over the past three years, some events were cancelled on the pretext of “security”. For instance, the LGBTI+ and Trans Pride Parades were banned in İstanbul. May 17 events were banned in Ankara but this latest ban targets directly an identity, existence and life practices. So, we are facing entirely a different form of violence now. These bans seem to be an attitude against the LGBTI+ movement growing.
“We call all rights defenders for solidarity”
Do you have a plan, strategy or call against the ban efforts?
As the SPoD, we act together with other LGBTI+ association and organizations. We observe the suits filed by Kaos GL and Pembe Hayat in Ankara. We hope that the ban will be lifted within the shortest time and our operations resume.
We want the authorities to comply with Constitution Article 10, İstanbul Convention and other international to which Turkey is a party.
Not only LGBTI+ organizations but we call all rights defenders for solidarity.
Ankara Governorship banned the events to be held by “LGBTI NGOs” indefinitely on the pretext of “public morality” and “social sensitivity and sensibilities” on November 19.
The Governorship banned German LGBTI Film Days on November following some tweets posted with the hashtags #LGBTFilmGünleriİptalEdilsin (#MayLGBTFilmDaysBeCancelled) and #İstiklalimizeKaraLeke (#BlackMarkOnOurFreedom).
The 11th leg of the Gender-Based Journalism Workshop carried out by the International Press Service (IPS) Communication Foundation with the support of Kaos GL, was cancelled as well as it was targeted by the media. The workshop was planned to be held on November 18, in Turkey's southeastern province of Mardin.
Beyoğlu sub-Governorship cancelled the film days to be held on November 25 with the cooperation British Council and Kuirfest.
The LGBTI organizations Kaos GL and Pembe Hayat (Pink Life) separately filed lawsuits against Ankara Governorship banning all LGBTI events indefinitely for the decision to be revoked and the execution to be suspended. (ÇT/TK)
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