On Friday morning, Ali Erol, a prominent Turkish human rights activist and a founder of Kaos GL Association, Turkey’s first registered LGBTQ organisation, was arrested and detained in a home he shares with his partner.
Clear indications of the purpose of his arrest are yet unknown, though Kaos GL has reported that Erol’s social media posts were included in the authorities’ detention warrant.
Turkey does not criminalise homosexuality, however discrimination against LGBTIQ people, including arbitrary arrests and targeting by authorities, is rampant and on the rise.
Jessica Stern, OutRight Action International Executive Director, commented on the arrest, saying,
“OutRight calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Turkish LGBTIQ human rights activist Ali Erol. He is an unjust casualty of an increasingly authoritarian government attacking democracy and curtailing the rights of Turkish citizens exercising their rights to expression and assembly. The persecution of LGBTIQ, and all, Turkish human rights defenders needs to stop now.’
In November 2017, the governor of Ankara banned all LGBTI related events in the Turkish capital, citing that such events could spur public animosity from other groups and the need to maintain safety and security. While Kaos GL as well as another Ankara based LGBTI group has challenged the ban citing unconstitutionality, it remains in place indefinitely.
Istanbul Pride events have been banned by the city’s governor for the past three years, with Pride marchers, who went forth with the celebrations despite the ban, being met with arrests and rubber bullets.
Since a failed military coup attempt in July 2016, dissenters, opposition leaders, human rights activists, and journalists have been heavily persecuted and arrested. With reports of the arrests of over 50,000 people.
Current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian rule is one that also seeks to impose a more conservative interpretation of Islam onto the population.
Yildiz Tar, Media and Communications Coordinator for Kaos GL, commented,
“Us having such little information about the detention of a prominent figure of the LGBTI movement and founder of Kaos GL is unlawful and worrying.
If you recall, Ankara Governorship banned LGBTI events for an indefinite period in November. This detention is an intervention in both freedom of expression and LGBTI rights. We hope this mistake will be corrected.”