LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey

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29 Nov

29 November 2016 – Last week the European Court of Human Rights decided unanimously on the case of Kaos GL v. Turkey: a violation of freedom of expression has taken place.
The case concerned the seizure of all copies of a magazine published by Kaos GL in 2006. The Court found that the ground of protecting public morals relied upon by authorities had been insufficient to justify the seizure order and confiscation of all the copies of the issue 28 of the magazine for more than 5 years.
While the Court accepted that the measures taken aimed to prevent specific groups of individuals to this publication – such as minors – it emphasized that authorities had not attempted to implement a less harsh measure such as prohibiting the sale of magazine to persons under the age of 18 or requiring special packaging with a warning for minors.
This decision of the ECHR comes at a crucial political and social moment for Turkey. In the last two years, human rights in general and those of LGBTI people in particular have seen a serious backlash. Istanbul Pride has been banned for two consecutive years along with other events planned in other major cities of the country. Following the attempted coup on 15 July 2015 the government has closed down many associations, arrested human rights defenders (including LGBTI) while some mainstream media perpetuate hate speech and prejudices against LGBTI people.
Recent changes in legislation, including the law for protection from discrimination, have left out sexual orientation and gender identity.
Trans people continue to be targets of brutal hate crimes, rape, robbing, threats and fines by local police authorities.
This decision comes in a timely manner for the rights of LGBTI people in Turkey whose freedom of expression and assembly along with the right to live free from discrimination, harassment and exclusion have been seriously violated in the last years. 
Only recently the Council of Europe has decided to closely monitor the situation in Turkey and has sent a clear message to the country that all measures taken under the emergency situation should be balanced and under no circumstance violate or affect the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens.
In its latest report the European Commission also criticized the country’s failure to protect minority rights and those of vulnerable groups.
For more background on the Kaos GL v. Turkey case visit:

Country - Turkey