17/04/2020 | Writer: Kaos GL

The Turkish Government responds to the letter of UN experts and rapporteurs regarding the METU Pride March; Government denied the police violence that documented with footage and said that it was the Rector’s Office who took the ban decision.

Government on METU Pride: "The Rector's Office has banned it, we are not discriminatory" Kaos GL - News Portal for LGBTI+


Photo: After the release of the students who were detained at the METU Pride March. Yıldız Tar/Kaos GL

The Turkish Government responds to the letter of UN experts and rapporteurs regarding the police violence at 2019 METU LGBTI+ Pride March, charges against LGBTI+ activists, and LGBTI+ rights in Turkey.

The government on its response from the April 9th has stated that METU Pride March was banned by the Rector's Office in 2019, the ban had nothing to do with the Governor's Office, and the police entered the campus at the request of the Rector's Office; and denied the police violence, arbitrary detentions, and prosecutions.

Letter from UN experts and rapporteurs

UN Independent Expert on Protection Against Violence and Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Victor Madrigal-Borloz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association Clément Nyaletsosi Voule, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders Michel Forst and UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism Fionnuala Ní Aoláin were criticizing the LGBTI+ activity bans, and highlighting the police attack, violence, arbitrary detentions and prosecutions at METU LGBTI+ Pride March on the letter that they jointly issued.

Threatening answer from the government: "They wouldn't be able to stay in the campus if disproportionate power was used"

The government responded to this letter; defended the use of tear gas, and said that "these allegations are not grounded and do not reflect the reality", although many LGBTI+ rights activists and lecturers were subjected to intense police violence on the day of the march. The government also said, "If there had been excessive use of force, it would have been impossible for the group of 700 people to stay on the campus for such a long time."

Meanwhile, during the march on May 10, 2019, intense police violence was caught by the cameras throughout the day; At the last hearing of the trial of the students detained at the march, the faculty members said, "Our students have been subjected to violence and I do not understand this trial at all!" and "The police wanted us to leave so that they could beat down students more".
CLICK HERE - METU Pride March trials: Our students were beaten but now they are on trial!

“The ban decision was taken by the Rector’s Office, it has nothing to do with the Governorate”

The government also addressed the indefinite ban on LGBTI+ activities imposed by the Governorate of Ankara during the emergency state period in 2017. While mentioning that the ban was removed by the Court as it was found conflicting with the law, they refrained from mentioning the 2nd ban on LGBTI+ activities, which emerged in 2018 with a letter sent from the Governor's Office to the Police Department, but recently removed as an outcome of the lawsuits filed by Kaos GL and Pink Life associations.

The letter also said that the ban imposed by the Governor's Office of Ankara may only apply in public places, and does not apply to METU Campus and that METU LGBTI+ Pride March is banned by the university rectorship. The government said that "there is no prefectural ban concerning the '10th Pride March' on the METU campus" and stated the METU Rectorship is responsible for any ban decision. And added that the police entered the university at the request of METU Rector's Office.

The government claims that it is not discriminatory but the laws prove the opposite

Another government claim in the letter was that "Turkey has implemented legislation and practice so that LGBT people, like all other citizens, do not suffer any discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation". However, the 10th article of the Constitution, which Government shows as a base to its allegations, does not cover sexual orientation and gender identity. The Turkish Human Rights and Equality Authority (TİHEK), which is founded to protect human rights, does not count sexual orientation and gender identity among the causes of discrimination, meanwhile generating further hatred through the symposiums it organizes.

The government also showed the LGBTI+ demonstration held in different cities in 2016 and 2017 as their "non-discriminatory" attitude; while not mentioning the police attacks on the İstanbul LGBTI+ Pride March and other marches in different cities in various years since 2015.

Turkey denied the bans and discrimination on the UN too!

This letter is not the first instance of the Turkish Government denying its own prohibitions, widespread discrimination, and violence on the international arena. At the UN Universal Periodic Review Meeting, the Government also denied systematic bans on LGBTI+ activities and marches. Despite the bans in many cities, the indefinite ban in Ankara that took place for more than two years, it claimed there was "no systematic ban".

Tags: human rights