Ankara bans German gay film festival
ANKARA - Turkish authorities have banned a festival of German-language gay films due to kick off in the capital Ankara Thursday on the grounds it could incite hatred and be at risk from a terror attack.
The festival organisers, Pink Life QueerFest, planned to screen four films by German directors over two days at cinemas in the Turkish capital, in an event backed by the German embassy.
But the Ankara governor's office said late Wednesday the festival's content "could incite hatred and enmity towards another section of society."
The governorate also said it made the decision to ban the festival because of intelligence suggesting "terror organisations are looking to attack groups with different views".
"It has been judged that this film screening... could be provocative and, because of social sensitivities, some segments of society could react."
But Pink Life QueerFest criticised the move, saying it "deprives us of our constitutional rights," in a statement on their website.
By suggesting the risk of a terror threat, the ban "serves to legitimise the people and institutions who see our existence as a threat and produce hate speech about us", Pink Life QueerFest said.
The governorate "should not ban such events but ensure they take place in a safe way", the organisers added.
The ban of the German festival comes at a time of high tension between Berlin and Ankara sparked by the detention of German nationals and what Turkey regards as German meddling in its affairs.
Meanwhile, there is also growing concern amongst LBGT activists in Turkey that their right to freedom of expression is being curtailed under the Islamic-rooted government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Homosexuality has been legal since the creation of the modern Turkish republic in 1923, and was also legalised in the Ottoman Empire from the mid-nineteenth century.
However, LGBT individuals in the country frequently complain of mistreatment including harassment, abuse and rape as well as animosity.
The annual gay pride rally in Istanbul -- once a hugely popular event --- has been blocked by authorities for three years in a row also on security grounds.
Activists accuse the government of banning such events in a bid to impose a conservative morality on the hugely diverse country. But authorities insist they are acting to protect citizens' safety.
Earlier this month, Erdogan hit back at the existence of a quota for gays on a neighbourhood committee, saying it was at odds with the nation's values.