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German gay film festival banned in Turkish capital

Ankara's governor's office said the festival was shut down because it "could be provocative and draw reactions."
Image: German festival was banned by Turkish officials in Ankara
A rainbow pride flag is displayed in front of the German embassy in Ankara, Turkey, on Nov. 16, 2017, after a German LGBTQ film festival was banned by Turkish officials.Tumay Berkin / EPA

ISTANBUL — Authorities in Turkey's capital banned a German gay film festival on Wednesday, the day before it was due to start, citing public safety and terrorism risks.

Four movies by German directors were scheduled for screening as part of the festival, which was planned for Nov. 16-17 in Ankara.

"Considering that the content could incite grudges and enmity towards a part of society... and the intelligence reports that terror organisations are seeking to attack dissident groups or individuals, it is evaluated that this film screening could be provocative and draw reactions," the Ankara governor's office said in a statement.

Organizers Pink Life QueerFest said on Wednesday the festival had been attacked on social media.

"Suggesting that these screenings could be provocative or targeted by terror groups only goes to legitimise those people and institutions that produce hate speech towards us and see our existence as a threat," they said in a statement.

"It only goes to deprive us of our constitutional rights under the name of 'protection'."

FILE - In this Sunday, June 28, 2015 file photo, participants of a Pride Week event in Istanbul, chant slogans after police used a water canon to disperse them. Emrah Gurel / AP

Two gay pride parades have been banned in Istanbul for the last two years running. Unlike in many Muslim countries, homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, but there is widespread hostility to it.

Critics say President Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AK Party have little interest in rights of minorities, gays and women and are intolerant of dissent.