STUDENTS who unveiled a banner showing Islam’s holiest site adorned with the LGBT rainbow colours face up to three years prison in Turkey after prosecutors charged them today with inciting public hatred. The students are from Istanbul’s Bogazici University, which has been the centre of anti-government resistance since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a decree appointing his political ally Melhi Bulu as rector. Two of those who displayed the banner depicting the Kabaa in Mecca with LGBT imagery have been held in custody since January 30, with prosecutors seeking between one and three years’ imprisonment for “inciting hatred and animosity.” Products with the rainbow colours or LGBT references must now be sold in Turkey with an 18-plus rating “to protect children” and, while homosexuality is not illegal in the country, Pride marches are often banned on spurious safety grounds. Students insisted that the charges were politically motivated and accused the authoritian president of seeking to shore up his support among conservatives, who are growing disenchanted due to a deepening political and economic crisis.
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