Ankara, Turkey, has just banned all LGBT events, days after canceling an German LGBT film festival. Citing “public sensitivity,” the prohibition encompasses films, lectures, exhibitions, performances and Pride parades.
“Starting from November 18, 2017, concerning our community’s public sensitivity, any events such as [LGBT] cinema, theater, panels, interviews, exhibitions are banned until further notice in our province to provide peace and security,” a decree issued on Sunday read.
On Wednesday, the Ankara Governor’s office banned the screening of four queer German-language films, citing terrorism and public safety.
“The content could incite grudges and enmity toward a part of society,” the office said of the Pink Life QueerFest. “The intelligence reports that terror organizations are seeking to attack dissentient groups or individuals.”
The Governor warned the screenings “could be provocative and draw reactions.”
Turkey has long been seen as one of the more welcoming of majority-Muslim countries, but activists complain President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cracked down on LGBT freedom. In recent years there has also been an alarming rise in prejudice and violence: Last year, a gay refugee from Syria was beheaded in Istanbul, the same year a young trans woman was murdered and set on fire in a middle-class neighborhood.
Just this summer, demonstrators who defied the ban on Istanbul Pride were met with rubber bullets and tear gas in Taksim Square.
“There used to be parts of the city where you could openly show that you’re gay, where no one cared who you are,” says Hussein, who won the Mr. Gay Syria pageant held in Istanbul last year. “That’s no longer possible.”
Of the original five contestants, three have already fled the country and Hussein plans to follow suit.