[JURIST] A Turkish court Thursday ordered the closure of a prominent gay rights group, finding that the name of Lambda Istanbul Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transvestites Solidarity Association [advocacy website, in Turkish] is contrary to Turkish morality because it includes words describing sexual identity. Lambda Istanbul has vowed to appeal the ban, taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights [official website] if necessary, and can continue to operate until a final decision is reached. Homosexuality is not a criminal offense in Turkey, as it is in many predominantly Muslim nations, but human rights groups have documented widespread discrimination against sexual minorities. In a report [text; press release] issued last week, Human Rights Watch called for Turkey to protect the rights of homosexual and transgendered people. BBC News has more. AP has additional coverage.
In 2005, Turkish prosecutors rejected a demand [JURIST report] by Ankara's deputy governor to shut down gay rights group Kaos Gay and Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association [advocacy website, English version]. The governor's office argued that the title and purpose of the group violated the Turkish Civil Code, which prohibits associations against law and morality, but prosecutors disagreed. A protective clause against anti-gay discrimination was written into the country's penal code in 2004 in an effort to strengthen Turkey's bid to join the European Union [official website], but it was later removed by Justice Minister Cemil Cicek, according to gay rights activists. The EU has said that Turkey must implement human rights reforms [JURIST report] before it would be admitted to the EU, but has given no specific instructions that GLBTQ rights should be included in the changes.