A Turkish court has fined a gay rights activist who used the word ‘queer’ in a tweet today (22 May).
Levent Pişkin was pronounced guilty and ordered to pay 1,500 Turkish Liras ($750, €550).
Back in July, he responded to a statement made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who said he was a ‘perfect Alevi’.
The PM of Turkey was responding to a particular sect of the Islam faith, Alevism, which particularly reveres the son-in-law of Muhammad – Ali.
Many Alevis rose and criticized the government following the 2013-14 protests in Turkey, which saw waves of demonstration and civil unrest across the country.
‘I am a perfect Alevi if being Alevi means loving Caliph Ali,’ Erdoğan said.
Following the statement, Pişkin tweeted: ‘We expect a statement from Erdoğan saying ‘I am a perfect queer.’ We are not going to learn about queerness from you. Kisses. #LGBTinConstitution.’
Prosecutors accused the gay rights activist of ‘mocking the Prime Minister’ and charged him with ‘slander and heavy provocation’.
They demanded up to one year and four months in prison for Pişkin.
Pişkin denied the charges, telling the court as a gay man he intended the word ‘not as an insult, but rather as an expression of sexual orientation.’
‘Being queer is neither a shame nor a sin,’ he said, according to Harriyet Daily News.
‘Claiming one’s identity is the result of the struggle we have given as an association for 21 years.
‘Erdoğan and his supporters learned nothing about queer despite 80,000 shouted it during the last Gay Pride.
‘So we have to teach them. Let us teach them, because we know very well about queerness.’
The court ruled Pişkin would be punished with a prison sentence of two months and 15 days, which was then converted to the payable fine.
Pişkin is hoping to appeal.