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Turkey must not prohibit gay sexual equality rights

June 6, 2008 8:01 PM

London MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford, Liberal Democrat European justice spokeswoman, has written to the Turkish Ambassador in London calling for a reversal of the recent ruling by an Istanbul court to ban the LGBT organisation, Lambdaistanbul.

In her letter Baroness Ludford, who is a member of the European Parliament's Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights, says: "This decision is deeply unhelpful in terms of Turkey's efforts to move towards EU norms of equal opportunities, free speech and freedom of association, which are also of course embedded in the European Convention on Human Rights to which Turkey already adheres."

"It will alienate many of those who are most keen to see Turkey continue on its path to full human rights compliance and be perceived as a retrograde step which damages Turkey's image in Europe."

"I would therefore urge that the Turkish government without delay seeks or supports means, whether legislative or executive or through judicial appeal, to reverse this banning decision, and to reinstate the rights of Lambdaistanbul."

Commenting on the ruling, Baroness Ludford added: "The government and parliament are not making 100% of the effort they need to on the human rights front, but on the other hand regressive judges are often thwarting progress that is made."

"I am an honest friend of Turkey, keen to see it qualify to joint the EU. But EU membership criteria are tough and unalterable, as backed by the European Parliament, and they include respect for gay rights and do not accommodate homophobia."