Turkey: End Harassment of Gay Rights Groups

Published: April 15, 2008

Turkey: End Harassment of Gay Rights Groups

A police raid on a Turkish human rights organization is the latest incident in an escalating pattern of harassment of gay rights groups, Human Rights Watch said today. In a letter to Turkish Minister of Interior Besir Atalay, Human Rights Watch called on the government to cease official harassment of groups working on sexual orientation and gender identity issues, and to ensure training of all criminal-justice officials in human rights principles.

On April 7, 2008, approximately 12 police in plainclothes entered the headquarters of the Lambda Istanbul Cultural Center, which defends the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Their warrant cited suspicion that Lambda “facilitates prostitution, acts as a go-between [and] provides a place for [prostitution],” criminalized under Article 227 of Turkey’s Penal Code. The raid took place 10 days before an April 17 court hearing in a case against Lambda Istanbul brought by the Istanbul Governor’s Office, accusing the group of violating Turkish “moral values and its family structure.”

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