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    Human Rights watch criticizes Turkey

    Hürriyet Haber
    27.09.2005 - 10:15 | Son Güncelleme:

    An organization in Turkey that supports the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people's rights in under threat from being shut down. Human Rights watch said on Monday that this violates basic freedoms of association and expression. The deputy governor of Ankara, Selahattin Ekremoglu, wrote a letter to the human rights group Kaos GL on September 15, stating that a complaint had been filed and a court procedure had been opened to close down the organization.

    Ekremoglu claims, "the name and regulations of the group violated a provision in the Turkish Civil Code that forbids "establishing any organization that is against the laws and principles of morality."

    Human Rights watch hit back with a hard reply, "Turkey has a long record of suppressing civil society and harassing human rights defenders," said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Project at Human Rights Watch. "This dangerous new move shows that old habits die hard, and calls into question recent advances in rights protections."

    The group which has been active for 11 years, recently applied to the government to obtain NGO status in Turkey. The request was originally approved, however, the Ankara deputy governor, who reports directly to the Interior Ministry, has now launched a court case to dissolve the organization.

    In 1994 the UN Human Rights Watch Committee held that "sexual orientation" was a status protected by the treaty – the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – which Turkey ratified. The treaty protects the freedoms of expression and association, while forbidding discrimination on the basis of sex.

    Turkey has also ratified the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which affirms freedoms of expression and association.

    The European Court of Human Rights has condemned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in a succession of cases.

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