Jail sentence demanded over “Ramazan can’t interfere with Şaban and Recep’s love” banner

A lawsuit was filed against three people who held a banner that read “Ramazan can’t interfere with Şaban and Recep’s love”*, during the LGBTI Pride March organized last year in Beyoğlu, Istanbul. The prosecutor’s office has demanded a prison sentence from 6 months to a year.

Source: “ ‘Şaban’la Recep’in aşkına Ramazan engel olamaz’ pankartına hapis istemi!,  May 26, 2016, T24, http://t24.com.tr/haber/sabanla-recepin-askina-ramazan-engel-olamaz-pankartina-hapis-istemi,342253

It was suggested that the banner mocked the months highly revered by Muslims.

According to the daily Posta, the investigation regarding the three suspects who held a banner that read “Ramazan can’t interfere with Şaban and Recep’s love” during the event called LGBTI (Union of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Turkey) Pride March on June 28 last year in Beyoğlu, Istanbul has been completed.

The indictment was prepared by Umut Tepe, a prosecutor from the Bureau of Press Offenses of the Istanbul Office of Chief Public Prosecutor. It lists Mehmet Yalçınkaya, Hasan Emre Okumuş and Davut Karacan as plaintiffs and Hacer K., Muhittin G. and Guris Ö. as suspects. The indictment suggests that the suspects were detected from footage taken at the scene and their statements taken, and claims that it is not possible to accept that liberties are absolutely unlimited.

The indictment expresses that when one liberty breaches upon another liberty it results in the restriction of the said liberty: “The constitution states that the freedom of expression is unlimited to the extent that it does not breach upon the freedom of religion and conscience, it indicates the necessity for the respect of those who do not believe (in a religion) for those who believe in various religions, as well as for the respect of those who believe for those who do not.”

“They have mocked the months which are highly revered by the Muslims”

The indictment stresses that Recep, Şaban and Ramazan are deemed the “three months” that symbolize a spiritually important time and indicates that the significance of these months are expressed by phrases such as “Sacred Three Months” and “Sultan of Eleven Months”, an expression used for the month of Ramadan. The indictment states “It is known by everyone that [these] three months are crucially important for Muslims”.

“In spite of this, the banner opened by the suspects during the march organized under the name of ‘Pride March’ which read ‘Ramazan can’t interfere with Şaban and Recep’s love’ mocks the months revered by the Muslims” the indictment continues, stating that the suspects are denigrating the religious values adopted by a certain part of the public.

They will each stand trial for imprisonment up to a year

The prosecution demanded a sentence of imprisonment from six months to a year for each of the three suspects, on the charges of “deliberately denigrating the religious values adopted by a certain part of the public”. The indictment was approved by the Office of Chief Prosecutor and accepted by the Istanbul Criminal Court of First Instance. The three suspects are to stand in trial in October.

* Translator’s Note: Ramazan, Şaban and Recep are Turkish names for the three sacred months of Islam, Ramadan, Sha’ban and Rajab. These names are also given as male names in Turkey, hence the pun.

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