The case has been adjourned to 12 March 2020.
Despite LGBTQ organisations urging a Turkish court to drop charges against 18 students and a faculty member who held an LGBTQ rights demonstration on their university campus, a Turkish judge is going ahead with the case.
This means that the 19 people charged with “participating in an unlawful assembly” and “resisting despite warning” will face a trial next year. Since a coup in 2016, Turkish authorities have been clamping down on Pride marches in the country, despite homosexuality being legal.
Reuters reports that the group’s lawyer, Oyku Didem Aydin argued for their immediate acquittal, saying: “The images in the indictment only show students using their basic rights and freedoms.
“There’s no resistance to police. The defendants are on trial for freedom of expression, for their freedom of assembly. No one should face such a thing.”
During the hearing, Melike Irem Balkan, one of those charged, told the court: “We were trying to continue our peaceful march. We’re struggling against a society that wants to determine who we can love, our bodies and sexuality.”
The judge refused to acquit the defendants, and adjourned the case until 12 March 2020. If convicted for refusing to disperse, most of the students and the faculty member face between six months and three years in prison. Another student has additionally been charged with “insulting” authorities with a hand gesture, which carries a prison sentence of up to two years.
Despite homosexuality being legal in Turkey, the authorities have cracked down on events like Pride marches and the Queer Olympix, usually claiming “social sensitivities”.
Current Turkish laws allow governors and district governors to ban events for up to a month if they believe they may be a threat to”national security, public order, prevention of crime, protection of public health, public morality or the rights and freedoms of others.”