LGBT supporters in Turkey took a blow this week when the 12th Criminal Court of First Instance of Bursa closed down the Rainbow Association. The group is a Turkish "Association for the Development of Protection, Solidarity and Cultural Activities for Transvestites, Transsexuals, Gays and Lesbians."
According to bianet.org, the Bursa Governorship brought allegations of prostitution against the Rainbow Association and its president, Öykü Evren Özen, in 2007. The president was also charged with “opposing the Law on Associations,” but was eventually acquitted.
“No illegal activities of any kind have been carried out within the association. I reject all charges,” Özen said.
The charges of prostitution came after the Governorship's original assertion that the association was “opposing the law and moral” was struck down. The courts dismissed the charge on the grounds that “Homosexuality is not a crime. According to the European Convention on Human Rights, there is no need for a prosecution.” So we're left wondering if these prostitution charges weren't concocted for the express purpose of discrediting the organization.
The association's president says he will appeal the decision to close the Rainbow Association and if it's upheld, he will start a new organization.
“Our struggle will never cease,” says Özen.
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