A Turkish court acquitted all 19 defendants charged over their participation in an LGBT Pride march on a university campus, saying their actions did not constitute a crime.
Most of the 19 defendants had been charged with "refusing to disperse" after being arrested at the Pride march in 2019 by police, who used pepper spray, plastic bullets and tear gas.
After a failed military coup in Turkey in 2016, local governments were given the power to ban public gatherings, and authorities across the country used this to outlaw Pride marches.
Activists and students exercised their legal right to freedom of assembly, celebrating Pride, however, at the university’s behest, police intervened and used excessive force to disperse the march, detaining 22 participants, of which 19 were charged.
Defence lawyer Oyku Didem Aydin, holding a rainbow flag in protest, had demanded the acquittal of the defendants, saying freedom of expression was a constitutional right. "What harm can this flag cause when I hold it in my hand? Does that mean I refuse to disperse despite a police warning? A student gets taken into custody simply for holding a flag."
Homosexuality is legal in Turkey, then it is very important for LGBT people to see the Turkish courts and judicial processes protect the rights of all people to freedom of assembly, as enshrined in Turkish law and the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Turkey is party.