Turkey’s shocking Pride March trial: The story so far

18 students and one academic face up to three years imprisonment in Turkey, should a judgement be made against them on December 10. The charges? Participating in a Pride march. Here’s the story so far, and how you can stand up for the METU 19.

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Protests after the attacks on METU Pride 2019. Credit: ODTÜ LGBTİ+ Dayanışması

1996:

Students at METU formed a group to ensure a safe space for LGBTI+ people at the university.

2011:

The first METU Pride was celebrated.

November 2017:

A blanket indefinite ban on public events focused on LGBTI+ rights was issued in Ankara, using the state of emergency powers. Despite the ending of emergency rule in July 2018, the Ankara Governor’s office did not lift the ban until two years later.

21 February 2019:

Ankara’s 12th Administrative Court lifted the blanket ban on LGBTI events in the city.

6 May 2019:

The METU University Rector, Mustafa Verşan Kök, sent an email to all students, graduates, and faculty members, informing them that the Rectorate was prohibiting Pride events.

10 May 2019:

The METU Pride march went ahead, in accordance with the Ankara Court’s lifting of the ban. 22 people ­- 21 students and one professor — were detained after police forces entered the campus at the request of the university administration. Police dispersed the crowd using pepper spray, tear gas and plastic bullets. All 22 detainees were released later that day.

2 August 2019:

19 of the 22 detained LGBTI+ rights defenders were notified that a criminal case had been opened against them, related to the charges of “participating in an unlawful assembly” and “resisting despite warning”, under Article 2911 of the Turkish Penal Code.

12 November 2019:

The first hearing of the court case took place. The judgement was postponed until 12 March, 2020.

12 March 2020:

The judgement was again postponed until 10 July, 2020.

24 June 2020:

An Ankara administrative court annulled the university’s ban on 2019 METU Pride March.

12 July 2020:

The judgement was pushed back again, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

10 December 2020:

The trial is scheduled for the 19 LGBTI activists.

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