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Turkey urged to end discriminatory clampdown on gay rights groups

Amnesty International called on the Turkish authorities to end its harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organizations after a new attempt to close down an LGBT group through the courts began on Tuesday. The case against the Black Pink Triangle association, which has worked in the city of Izmir to combat discrimination against LGBT people in since it was founded in February 2009, was adjourned after the first hearing, amid fears that the Turkish authorities will engage the group in a protracted - yet groundless - legal battle.   The association faces closure following a complaint by the Izmir Governor's Office that its aims violate "Turkish moral values and family structure".   "The decision to adjourn the hearing rather than dismiss this baseless and discriminatory case is a signal that the judicial harassment of LGBT associations continues," said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International's Turkey researcher. Amnesty International is concerned that this closure case follows similar cases targeting LGBT associations in recent years.   Cases were brought against LGBT association KAOS-GL in 2005 and Pembe Hayat (Pink Life) in 2006. In April 2009, the solidarity group Lambda Istanbul won its appeal against the closure of the association - but only after an arduous four-year legal battle. In the trial, which was observed by Amnesty International, lawyers for Black Pink Triangle association called on the court to uphold the right to freedom of association. The public prosecutor stated that if the authorities did not audit associations such as the Black Pink Triangle, it "would turn social life into anarchy". The case was adjourned until 20 April after the judge said there had been letters from abroad regarding the case that he wanted translated before continuing.   Outside the court, Black Pink Triangle association issued a statement criticizing  the authorities for attempting to close an LGBT association at a time when LGBT people are victims of hate crimes in Turkey. "The only way for LGBT people to resist the oppression, isolation and marginalization in social life due to their sexual orientation and gender identity is through solidarity and coming together," said the Black Pink Triangle spokesperson. "A protracted legal battle, hampering the vital work done by Black Pink Triangle in defending the rights of LGBT individuals, would be a further indictment of Turkey's failure to uphold the right to freedom of association and non-discrimination." said Andrew Gardner.