Panti: Turkey Trip Was "Tense"

Globe-trotting national treasure Panti has spoken out about the “tense” situation facing Turkey’s LGBT+ citizens, following a recent visit to the country.

Rory O'Neill in Turkey during a panel discussion with other panelists

The beloved drag queen wrote on Facebook of Turkey’s “deteriorating” human rights situation as he prepared to board a return flight from the country on Sunday.

Things have been increasingly difficult for Turkish LGBTs in recent times; last month, Ankara’s governor released a statement saying that he was imposing a ban on LGBT+ events for fear of “provoking reactions within certain segments of society”. LGBT campaigners have announced plans to fight the ban, which is due to last for an “indefinite” period, in court.

Writing on Facebook, the Mayo native said that the he had been advised to keep a “low profile” while visiting the country for screenings of documentary ‘The Queen of Ireland’, due to the ban on all LGBT+ events.

“I’ve been in Turkey for the last few days,” wrote Panti. “The human rights situation here is deteriorating, and recently all LGBTI events were banned in Ankara.

I was here for some LGBTI events, so for that reason we were advised to keep a low profile and not post about the events while I was here. But seeing as I’m boarding my flight home, I’ll tell you a little.

Rory O’Neill meets LGBT+ activists in Ankara (Image: Facebook)

“The trip went smoothly, if a little tensely.

“After the first screening of The Queen Of Ireland in Ankara (where there were concerns the authorities might turn up to close it down) there was a panel discussion (not the one pictured) and a wonderfully nutty trans activist on the panel (big multi-coloured hair, wearing a wedding dress) absolutely tore into the current situation, no holds barred, no fear. She was amazing.

“Similarly, a trans activist and sex worker on the Istanbul panel (pictured [main image]) refused to be cowed.

“In Ankara the Irish Ambassador (pictured) held a lunchtime reception in his residence on the day of the screening and invited EU people, human rights activists, LGBTI activists, and the aforementioned trans activists.

The Ambassador was determined the film screening would go ahead and wanted people to know it.

“Earlier that same day I met with various women’s rights groups and queer groups (the queer groups all run by women because “we didn’t want men to dominate… we did a very good job!”) to learn about the work they are doing. It’s pretty grim, and with the new LGBT ban things have become more difficult and many have gone to ground for now).”

The post finished with a plea to support Amnesty International. “Reading a little online the last few days about the situation with Amnesty in Ireland, I’d like to tell you one more thing.

“On Thursday I went to visit Amnesty’s office here and spoke with the impressive, smart, brave deputy-director woman in charge. The atmosphere was heavy, because the director, another brave woman, has spent the last four months in prison on ridiculous trumped up charges. Amnesty matters. Please support it.”

Taner Kılıç, and İdil Eser the chair and director of Amnesty International Turkey, are among 11 people human rights activists facing “terrorism” charges in what Amnesty International has called “a politically motivated prosecution aimed at silencing critical voices within the country”.

Their trial is set to resume on January 31. If convicted, they could face jail terms of up to 15 years.

© 2017 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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