Turkey's High Court of Appeals has ordered Turkish daily paper Yeni Akit (now changed its name to Vakit) to pay compensation for insulting gay people in a headline it printed in 2008, according to a report published by Hürriyet.
Yeni Akit printed an article titled ‘Üskül prefers perverts,’ regarding Zafer Üskül, the then head of Turkish Parliamentary Human Rights Commission who attended an ‘International Anti-Homophobism Meeting’ organized by KAOS GL, a leading support organisation for Turkey’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
The article written by columnist Serdar Arseven stated that Üskül was ‘an AKP [Justice and Development Party] member who gave assurances to she-males’ in reference to Üskül's statement during the meeting that the government guaranteed that gay and lesbian people would not be segregated because of their sexual orientation. ‘[Üskül] went on and attended a meeting by sexual perverts! A meeting of [gays],’ Arseven wrote.
KAOS GL filed a lawsuit against Yeni Akit and Arseven, seeking compensation for the offensive headline and article. However, the lawsuits were rejected by two Ankara courts on the grounds that the newspaper was ‘within the limits of criticism.’
The High Court of Appeals overruled the decisions of the two courts, saying: ‘The freedom of the press does not encompass the freedom to insult the personal freedoms of individuals.’
The court stated Yeni Akit insulted LGBT people in a way which could not be considered criticism. It sentenced the newspaper and Arseven to pay compensation. The paper has been ordered to pay 4,000 Turkish Liras ($2,134 €1,675) while Arseven has been sentenced to pay 2,000 liras ($1,067 €838) in damages.
KAOS GL told Gay Star News that the court's ruling was a breakthrough: 'The Newspaper Vakit (currently named) has been publishing news and articles spreading hate speech. All the cases that we filed against their hate speech had not produced any results so far. As a matter of fact, in both cases mentioned, the court had rejected the demand for compensation, saying it was "within the limits of criticism".
'The Supreme Court's Decision that such hate speech cannot be considered under the freedom of press constitutes a leading case.'