Ankara governor bans LGBTI+ film festival

The Ankara Governor’s Office banned the Pink Life QueerFest, an LGBTI+ film festival scheduled to be held from Feb. 23 to 25 for the 12th time. The governor justified the ban by claiming to protect “public order, public health and morals, and the rights and freedoms of others.”

Duvar English

Ankara Governor on Feb. 23 banned Pink Life QueerFest, an LGBTI+ film festival organized by the capital Ankara-based Pembe Hayat (Pink Life) LGBTI+ Solidarity Association for the 12th time.

The festival scheduled to took place between Feb. 23-25 at Goethe Institut Ankara, Chamber of Mechanical Engineers’ Training and Cultural Center, and Alumni Association of Political Science Faculty of Ankara University.

The governor’s office sent ban decision to the venues and based its decision on "the protection of public order, public health and morals, and the rights and freedoms of others.”

The governor also banned "exhibitions, press releases, movie screenings, plays, panels, and talks related to LGBT-LGBTI etc." in the letter notified to the venues, according to the LGBTI+ magazine KaosGL

In a press statement, the Pink Life Association stated that the festival would switch to the online platforms without a change in the program.

“This is neither the first nor the last arbitrary use of legal power serving a ban against LGBTI+ community, as our queer gatherings such as film screenings, picnics, marches, and tea talks have been banned before,” the association noted.

The Ankara Governor’s Office had banned all LGBTI+ events to be organized in the province “indefinitely” twice in 2017 and 2018. Turkish courts ruled in 2019 and 2020 that these bans were unlawful and that if there was a threat to the events, law enforcement measures should have been taken instead of banning.

The Pink Life Association moved festival’s main portion to Istanbul after these bans an the main theme of this year’s festival was “returning to Ankara.”