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Turkish court acquits students of organising 2019 gay pride march

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By Euronews with AFP
Protesters hold signs and a rainbow flag during a demonstration in Ankara in May 2019.
Protesters hold signs and a rainbow flag during a demonstration in Ankara in May 2019.   -   Copyright  ADEM ALTAN / AFP
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Turkey has acquitted 19 people who had been prosecuted for organising and participating in a Pride march.

A Turkish court had ruled that the students and academic did not commit any crime by holding the rally at their university campus in May 2019.

The group had been charged with "refusing to disperse" after they were arrested at the march by police, who used tear gas.

Defence lawyer Öykü Didem Aydin welcomed the ruling and said that "the law has been respected".

"All this should never have happened," he added to AFP after the eighteen students and one academic were released from custody in Ankara.

The students were from the prestigious Middle East Technical University (ODTU) and could have faced up to three years in prison.

"In its decision, the court ruled that one person should be fined for insulting the police and the other defendants were acquitted because there was no criminal element," Amnesty International Turkey said on Friday.

The ODTU's management had banned the Pride march in 2019 for the first time since 2011, which prompted a backlash.

While homosexuality is legal in Turkey, NGOs say that homophobia is widespread and that the Turkish government has waged a "hate campaign" against them for years.

After 100,000 people attended a 2014 Pride march in Istanbul, authorities have annually banned the parade.