Lambda Istanbul to be closed

Article published on June 1, 2008
community published
Article published on June 1, 2008
It has been a tragic week for minority groups in Turkey. On May 29th a local Istanbul court issued a legal order to close Lambdaistanbul LGBT Solidarity Association.
Lambdaistanbul is currently Turkey's only known non campus-affiliated association with the mission of defending and establishing the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals within Turkey's legal sphere and society. Turkey's constitution, which is reputed to be a document that holds the country on a secular, Westernizing course, does not currently guarantee equal rights and recognition for sexual minorities.

gaypride_istanbul.jpgThe local court's order followed a warranted search of the Lambda Istanbul Cultural Center earlier in the spring. The center has been described as a refuge where LGBT people can "relax, be themselves and be safe." According to a statement released by Human Rights Watch:

"On April 7, between twelve and fifteen men in plain clothes entered the Lambda Istanbul Cultural Center, identifying themselves as members of the Financial and Moral Police; an officer from the City Department of Associations accompanied them. The police presented a warrant, but members of Lambda Istanbul told Human Rights Watch that they were not allowed to review it thoroughly. Police refused to answer questions about why they were raiding the Center.

The attorney for Lambda Istanbul subsequently found the warrant was issued under article 227 of the Criminal Code, whereby 'any person who encourages another person to become a prostitute, or facilitates prostitution, or acts as a go-between or provides a place for such purpose is punished with imprisonment from two years up to four years, and also a punitive fine up to three thousand days.' Beyoglu Prosecutor Serdar Gur had demanded and received the warrant from the Magistrates' Court of Beyoglu No. 2. The attorney also told Human Rights Watch that he received information that Lambda Istanbul had been under surveillance since the beginning of March."

According to a communique received by this observer from Lambdaistanbul, the legal process surrounding the closing will continue in Turkey's Supreme Court of Appeals, the same court that it is hearing the governing AK Party's closure case. Lambdaistanbul will be legally able to function while the Supreme Court formulates its decision.