Statement by ILGA-Europe
On 29 May 2008, Istanbul’s 3rd Civil Court of First Instance ruled to close down Lambdaistanbul LGBTT Solidarity Association on the grounds that its charter and activities are against the “general morals” and the “Turkish family values”.
Lambdaistanbul then challenged this at the Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals (Yargitay) which effectively overturned the ruling of the local court on 25 November 2008. The case on the closure of Lambdaistanbul will tomorrow re-open in the local court.
ILGA-Europe welcomes the decision of the Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals (Yargitay) but is concerned with the wording in the ruling which states that
"dissolution of the defendant association could still be demanded, if it would act counter to its charter, in the ways of encouraging or provoking lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite and transsexual behaviour or acting with the aim of spreading such sexual orientations".
This statement imposes clear limitations to the activities of the organisation and to the rights of LGBT people in Turkey to free expression, assembly and life with dignity. It is established European Court of Human Rights case-law that:
"Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a [democratic] society, one of the basic conditions for its progress and for the development of every man. Subject to paragraph 2 of Article 10, it is applicable not only to 'information' or 'ideas' that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the state or any sector of the population. Such are the demands of that pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no democratic society."
ILGA-Europe will closely follow the hearing on 30 April 2009 and hope that the local court will not use the above statement in its decision and will guarantee the freedom of association and assembly of LGBT people in Turkey.
Dirk De Meirleir
Handyside v. UK (1976)