During Pride week, communities across the world celebrate the diversity of sexuality and gender identity but in Turkey the situation for LGBTQI groups is dire. Since a state of emergency was declared in July 2016, the Government has banned, movies, festivals, talks and screenings related to LGBTQI rights. This also included blocking Wikipedia for over two years, prohibiting LGBTQI related content to be available in Turkey.
This week, SUSMA and Article19 are joining voices to highlight the deteriorating situation of LGBTQI activists in Turkey. We will be raising the attention of LGBTQI activists through an inspirational documentary by Merve Diltemiz Mol, an LGBTQI activist called “Being LGBTI in State of Emergency”.
In the documentary, LGBTQI activists talk about how increasing police violence, bans on LGBTQI related events, internet censorship and legal sanctions on social media users affect the LGBTQI movement. SUSMA will also be publishing interviews with different LGBTQI associations on how internet bans and censorship affect their work.
Social media platforms have been systematically taking down content and suspending accounts of LGBTQI groups. Missing Voices campaign is sending a reminder that freedom of expression and access to information are universal rights.
We are calling for Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to respect the rights of the Missing Voices of LGBTQI people in Turkey and give everyone the right to appeal when content is wrongfully taken down. With increasing Turkish government requests for Twitter takedowns, we request social media platforms to provide more data about all content restrictions and how they enforce their Terms of Service.