In July 2007, the religious conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP)¹ was re-elected in secular Turkey. Since the election, Turkish feminists, LGBTT activists and youth have been faced with several attempts by the AKP government and bureaucrats to use their redefinition of “morality” to curb sexual rights. In November 2007, the government’s attempt to include several clauses using morality to limit personal freedoms in the constitution led more than one hundred women’s groups (united under the Women’s Platform for the Constitution) to protest the draft constitution prepared by AKP.
On 29 May 2008, the Third Civil Court of Istanbul ruled in favor of a complaint brought by the Istanbul Governor’s Office and ordered the closing of Lambda Istanbul, a major LGBTT organization that has been active since 1993. The complaint argued that Lambda Istanbul’s objectives are “against the law and morality.” Although the prosecutor rejected the case on the basis of freedom of association, the City Government appealed the decision and the issue was taken to court in July 2007. The local court ordered Lambda Istanbul to be shut down, despite the legal expert’s report stating that the association is not against the law or public morality. LGBTT, women’s and human rights organizations in Turkey protested the court decision through a press conference and a march. The legal process continued to the Supreme Court of Appeals who will review the case file. The association will remain open until there is a final decision by the Supreme Court of Appeals.
The most recent attempt of AKP, which also met with wide ranging protests, involved a draft law aiming to protect “the morality of youth.” Upon massive protest from the public and the media, AKP announced its decision to withdraw the draft law on 9 August 2008.
¹ Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi.
* Pinar Ikkaracan is member of SPW’s Researchers team and from Women for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR) / the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR).
:: Posted in 09/23/2008 ::