Criminal Complaint Filed Against Prime Minister for “Fag” Case

Souce: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “ ‘İbne’ Davasında Başbakan’a Suç Duyurusu,” (“Criminal Complaint Filed Against Prime Minister for ‘Fag’ Case,” Bianet, 06 January 2014,

After Prime Minister Erdoğan made a criminal complaint against Levent Pişkin for his “fag” tweet, Pişkin defended himself by making a criminal complaint against the Prime Minister.

In his statement, Pişkin stated that the word “fag” is not an insult but a sexual orientation and therefore there was no basis for a crime.

Pişkin said, “not only is the word fag not an insult, but even considering the word fag an insult is itself defamation.” The complainant, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, demanded that an investigation be carried out based on Article 125/1 of the Turkish Penal Code for insulting someone about his personality.

Why “fag” is not an insult

In his defense, Pişkin talked about the definitions of heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, gayness and lesbianism, the discrimination LGBTI people face and how this discrimination often happens through the use of language.

Pişkin stated that the word “fag” is not an insult but an expression that LGBTI people have claimed for themselves, as can be seen by the press statements of LGBTI associations, his own article on bianet, the popular “Because we are fags” banners seen on the streets, and Yıldız Tar’s book Comrade, I am a Faggot. He said:

“The most concrete example of society’s predominant exclusionary and discriminatory language would be to call someone a “fag.” At this point, we see the manifestation of the anger towards homosexuals in a social,  psychological way. In fact, the state of being a fag as we mentioned above does not constitute an insult or a behavior; it expresses an existence. “Fag” (ibne) is the Ottoman Turkish expression of homosexual identity. For example, in Ferit Develioğlu’s Ottoman-Turkish Dictionary, the ninth definition of the word “levent” is “fag.” The first definition is the Ottoman sailors. The ninth definition of fag stems from the homosexual relations among sailors.”

Pişkin further stated that the Turkish Language Institute’s first definition of fag in the current Turkish dictionary is “passive homosexual male, homosexual.” He asks, “In light of all of these facts that show that “fag” is a word denoting sexual orientation, how can it be considered defamation?”

Pişkin reminded those present that decisions of the European Court of Human Rights put forth the limits of criticisms directed at politicians based on their careers to be much wider than the limits of criticisms directed at an ordinary person and that for this reason, politicians must be more tolerant.

Translator’s Note

*The Turkish term ibne is originally derived from the Arabic word “boy” and is widely used today as a derogatory slang for gay men. The Turkish Language Institute Dictionary defines ibne as “a passive homosexual man” and “a word said in anger.”  The term is being reclaimed by many in the LGBTI movement in Turkey. The court case of Levent Pişkin can be seen as a critical instance of such reclamation.  In this sense, ibne’s current connotations lie somewhere between the American English terms “fag” and “queer.”


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