Turkish LGBTQ Activist Released, But Prosecution Continues

Ali Erol, leading LGBTQ human rights defender, and co-founder of Kaos GL Association, Turkey’s first registered LGBTQ organisation, was released from detention yesterday.

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Erol was arrested in the home he shares with his partner early Friday morning, February 2nd, in Ankara.

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While Erol has been released, his case is still under judicial review and the prosecution continues. Erol will be required to appear before the police periodically and is banned from leaving the country. The exact reasons surrounding his arrest and the prosecution has been kept confidential by authorities, though Kaos GL reports that the police had a warrant for his social media posts.

Yildiz Tar, Media and Communications Coordinator at Kaos GL, commented on the judicial process, and said,

“Secrecy is a very common strategy in Turkey. First they detain, ask questions about something, then they prepare the charges and we can only learn it in trial or just before the trial.”

Jessica Stern, Executive Director at OutRight Action International, comments on the situation, saying,

“The ambiguity of the case and seemingly arbitrary reasons for Ali Erol’s arrest speaks to the deteriorating situation faced by LGBTQ, and all, human rights defenders in Turkey. The blanket ban on LGBTQ events already trampled on the rights to assembly, now even the rights to express oneself freely is being punished. The Turkish government needs to stop violating the human rights of its citizens immediately.”

In November 2017, the governor of Ankara banned all LGBTQ 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. Since the ban, LGBTQ organisations have been on alert and face increasing pressure.

Under the current authoritarian regime, it has been reported that over 50,000 dissenters, opposition leaders, human rights activists, and journalists have been heavily persecuted and arrested.

In a press release issued by Kaos GL, the organisation states,

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