Turkey’s terrorism financing law demonizing civil society - activist

Turkey’s terrorism financing law has been used to criminalize the activities of civil society organizations, Kerem Dikmen from KAOS GL, one of the oldest LGBT rights groups in Turkey, said in an interview with Bianet news site.

Dikmen told the site that the law prevented many human rights organizations and NGOs from conducting their activities.

“According to the government, human rights groups are toxic,” he said on Thursday, adding that “the government believes their activities are essentially criminal and that these organizations need to be constantly under surveillance.”

Turkey’s Law No. 7262 on Preventing the Proliferation of Financing Weapons of Mass Destruction was approved by the Turkish Grand National Assembly on December 27, 2020 ("Law No. 7262").

The law restricts the activities of many civil society organizations, according to the latest reports of Amnesty International.

According to the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe's advisory body on constitutional matters, the law in question goes beyond its stated intention and negatively affects civil society by further tightening the government's control over its activities.

Dikmen maintained that the law has paved the way for an increasing governmental supervision over the civil society in Turkey.

“The governing boards of organizations have to meet on online platforms and save their notes and decisions in online databases,” he said. “But these platforms need to be approved by the Information and Communications Technologies Authority (BTK),” he said.

The Interior Ministry was trying to obtain the content of the meetings as well as the decisions that were taken, the activist said, adding that many human rights activists were accused of terrorist activities and arrested for their activist work.

LGBT groups have been affected from the law since their members were detained during demonstrations and particular government officials targeted them in public statements. The rainbow flag and other symbols have been cited to detain LGBT activists.

LGBT organizations have already been subject to extensive government monitoring, which makes it nearly impossible for them to operate properly, according to Dikmen.

According to the 2021 Rainbow Europe Map published by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)-Europe, Turkey was ranked 48th among 49 countries as regards the human rights of LGBT people, Stockholm Centre for Freedom said.

Turkey's LGBT community has long been subjected to state harassment and widespread discrimination. Turkish officials have described homosexuality as “a disease” and rejected proposals for legal protections for LBGT citizens. Homophobic comments from prominent government officials are rather frequent.

Just last week, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said that the government crackdown against the country’s LGBTQI community was part of effort to prevent the group from destroying the Turkish family structure.

"We have prevented the LGBT so as to stop them from destroying our family structure or push our children into indecency,’’ SoL news site sited Soylu as saying. "We are a Muslim state.’’

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