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LGBTI group lodges criminal complaint against newspaper for inciting hate

LGBTI group lodges criminal complaint against newspaper for inciting hate

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Turkey’s leading LGBTI group, Kaos GL, has filed a criminal complaint against a major newspaper in the country.

Kaos GL filed the petition with the Prosecutor’s office claiming the newspaper, Yeni Akit. It claimed the newspaper had incited hate against the LGBTI community.

The LGBTI group argued comments published in the newspaper violated Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Cod (TCK).

It argued that comments such as:  ‘Homosexual perverts who define themselves as LGBTI’, ‘Homos fed by the funds of Western countries and German foundations’, ‘perverted homos’ and ‘homosexual immorals’, incited hatred towards LGBTI people.

Article 216 of the TCK prohibits the public provocation of ‘hatred or hostility in one section of the public against another section which has a different characteristic based on social class, race, religion, sect or regional difference, which creates a explicit and imminent danger to public security’. Those convicted under that law face a jail sentence of between one to three years.

Hate speech is on the rise

Kaos GL has monitored the portrayal of LGBTI people in Turkish media for the past nine years. Its legal coordinator, Kerem Dikme, said the group has seen a worrying rise in anti-LGBTI sentiments in mainstream media.

‘We see that hate speech containing publications of newspapers such as Yeni Akit are on the increase,’ Dikme said.

‘The main reason behind this increase is impunity. In the practices of prosecutor’s offices in Turkey, hate speech is not subjected to any penal sanctions.

‘Moreover, though there are judgements given by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which rules that hate speech cannot be evaluated as part of freedom of expression, the complaints made for the investigation of such news are evaluated within the frame of “journalism – press ethics” and “freedom of expression” and end in non-prosecution.’

Kaos GL

As one of the most prominent LGBTI groups, Kaos GL has attracted a lot of attention from authorities.

In February this year, police arrested Ali Erol who founded Kaos GL, along with his partner in the capital, Ankara.

Police claimed they detained him because of his social media posts and released him a few days later.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, but anti-LGBTI actions have been on the rise.

Last year, Ankara banned all future LGBTI events.

Combined with Erol’s arrest, the increasing anti-LGBTI rhetoric in the media, ‘speaks to the deteriorating situation faced by LGBTIQ, and all, human rights defenders in Turkey,’ said Jessica Stern, Executive Director at OutRight Action International.

‘The blanket ban on LGBTIQ events already trampled on the rights to assembly, now even the rights to express oneself freely is being punished. The Turkish government needs to stop violating the human rights of its citizens immediately.’