ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The Turkish capital Ankara has banned the public showing of films and exhibitions related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues, the governor’s office said on Sunday, citing risks to public safety.
The move is likely to deepen concern among rights activists and Turkey’s Western allies about its record on civil liberties under President Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK Party.
“Starting from Nov. 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,” the governor’s office said in a statement.
It said that such exhibitions could cause different groups in society to “publicly harbor hatred and hostility” toward each other and therefore pose a risk to public safety.
Authorities in Ankara had already banned a German gay film festival on Wednesday, the day before it was due to start, citing public safety and terrorism risks.
In addition, gay pride parades have been banned in Istanbul for the last two years running. Unlike in many Muslim countries, homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, but there is widespread hostility to it.
Civil liberties in Turkey have become a particular concern for the West following the attempted military coup in July 2016. Since then, more than 50,000 people have been jailed pending trial on suspicion of links to the coup. Some 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from their jobs.
Human rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies fear Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to quash his opponents. Ankara says the measures are necessary, given the extent of the security threat it faces.