13/10/2005 | Writer: Kaos GL

An official demand to ban Turkey’s first gay rights association was rejected by a prosecutor on Wednesday, allowing the KAOS Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association to continue to operate, reports Agence France-Presse. The decision was hailed by gay rights activists as a big step in combating discrimination in the country, which hopes to join the European Union.

The Ankara governor's office had informed KAOS last month that it had asked a court to dissolve the group because "associations against law and morality cannot be established." But the prosecutor reviewing the demand decided not to proceed with a court case on the grounds that the words "gay" and "lesbian" are used both in daily life and scientific research with no inhibitions and that homosexuality does not amount to immorality.

"This is a big step in efforts to remove sexual discrimination in all areas of social life and allow Turkish homosexuals the equality and justice they deserve," KAOS said in a statement.

Prejudice against gays and lesbians remains strong in Turkey, even though same-sex relationships have never been criminalized as in other Muslim countries and many gays figure among the country's top celebrities. Gay activists say most of them risk their jobs if they disclose their sexual identity and there are no laws to protect their rights. KAOS has functioned as an informal group since 1994, publishing a magazine and organizing activities for gays and lesbians, who have become increasingly outspoken in recent years.

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Tags: human rights