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4th November 2020, 16:00:51 UTC

Students peacefully celebrating LGBTI+ PRIDE in Ankara, Turkey were met with police brutality and charges of “unlawful assembly”. They must be acquitted.

In 1996, students at Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey, formed a group to ensure that the university is a safe space for LGBTI+ people and to advocate for their rights.

Against the backdrop of increasing homophobia in Turkey, METU students have marched through their campus each year to celebrate Pride and demand equality and dignity for LGBTI+ people.

“We have to understand what Pride means to people. At Pride you get be yourself, your full self. That’s an important feeling and it has a healing power.” Özgür Gür

But in 2019, the university banned the Pride march on campus and called the police on the students. As they peacefully sat on the lawn, students were met with pepper spray, plastic bullets and tear gas. Several were injured, many detained.

Recently, an administrative court has overturned the university’s unlawful ban. Yet 18 students and one academic are on trial for “unlawful assembly” and “failing to disperse despite being warned”. No one should be convicted for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Sign your name to remind the Minister of Justice that the 18 METU students and the academic on trial must be acquitted.

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