Turkish university shuts down decade-old LGBTI+ student club on bogus charges

Turkey’s Hacettepe University shut down the decade-old LGBTI+ student club “Queer Deer” on the charges of “not organizing adequate events for a year” even though the rectorate banned some of the events and the university had hybrid education last semester.

Duvar English

Turkey’s prestigious Hacettepe University's “Activity Commission,” consisting of academics, administrative officials, and student representatives decided to strip the 10-year-old LGBTI+ student club of its official status on the grounds that “it did not organize adequate activities for a year.”

The university rectorate on Sept. 21 approved the decision and “officially” shut down the student club.

Hacettepe University Queer Studies Club (Queer Deer) stated that they have been organizing online activities due to the transition to hybrid education after the Feb. 6 Earthquakes and that the university rectorate has banned some of the events they wanted to organize in recent years.

According to the directive on which the decision is based, a student club must organize events at least twice a year. 

Nonetheless, the club stated that the same rule has not been applied to many other clubs that have not been active even for years.

“In the 2023 elections, hate policies targeting the queer community and organizations have escalated, particularly in light of the recent "Grand Family Gathering," further endangering our struggle for existence and visibility,” Queer Deer stated. 

The ruling nationalist-Islamist People’s Alliance adopted a harsh anti-LGBTI+ stance against the country’s marginalized community and further endangered their freedom of association. 

The student club mentioned that they had not been informed about the process until the notice of closure was delivered to them. Queer Deer added that they will continue their activities whether they have official status or not and that they will take the matter to the judicial bodies.

This is not the first time an LGBTI+ club officially operating at a university has been shut down.

This is not the first time that LGBTI+ clubs officially operating at a university have been closed down. In 2021, following government actions targeting LGBTI+ students during the student protests at Boğaziçi University, the long-standing LGBTI+ studies club at the university was shut down. Presidency's Director of Communications Fahrettin Altun announced the decision back then.