SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: July 18, 2022

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):Boğaziçi University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Turkey

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On July 18, 2022, Bogazici University (BU) officials verbally informed members of the BU cinema club that they were not permitted to show three of the films in their film series, apparently because the films involved themes related to gender and sexuality. University officials later suspended the club’s activities for a month.

On July 6, the cinema club applied for permission for the film screenings to the Dean of Students and Interclub Board. On July 11, the cinema club released the calendar for outdoor film screening, showcasing 11 films from July 11 to August 22. On July 18, the cinema club was notified in a phone call that three of the movies were not approved, although no justification was provided. Club members allege that the university canceled the three movies, My Child, Laurence Anyways, and Go, because they include characters who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.

On August 3, BU Rector Mehmet Naci Inci informed the cinema club in a letter that the club was suspended from any activity for one month.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the attempt to cancel or otherwise limit the right to freedom of expression and freedom of association on campus – conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Turkey is a party. University authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with such activities, so long as they are undertaken peacefully and responsibly. University actions limiting the rights to free expression or association on campus have a chilling effect on academic freedom and university autonomy, and undermine democratic society generally.