freedom of expression in Turkey

Whoever criticizes Erdogan finds themselves in court; Here are the court cases!

We have translated the following text on the current legal environment in Turkey to give context to the case against LGBTI activist Levent Pişkin and the understanding of freedom of expression vs “insult”. Annotations in square brackets are notes by translators for clarity. Exchange rate used is 1 USD = 2.68 TL.

Of the 56 punitive or compensation lawsuits during the January-March 2015 period, 8 were initiated during Erdoğan’s prime ministry and 21 during his presidency, either by his complaint or with the justification that his personal rights were violated. Of the remaining 27, 7 were filed by his son Bilal Erdoğan and 3 were related to the Erdoğan family.


Source: Erol Önderoğlu, “Erdoğan’ı Eleştiren Kendini Mahkemede Buluyor; İşte Davalar!” [“Whoever criticizes Erdogan finds themselves in court; Here are the court cases!”], Bianet, 30 April 2015,

Of the 17 remaining cases, two were initiated by former minister [of Transport, Maritime and Communication] Binali Yıldırım and the others by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş, Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek, the Adana Mayor, the District Governor of Gerger [a district in the province of Adıyaman], the Ülker Group [a private company owned by Yıldız Holding], the police commissioner, Anadolu Agency [semi-official news agency], and a military colonel.

During the January-March 2015 period, 2 journalists were fined a total of 4,420TL [$1,630], 9 journalists’ cases are in progress, 6 were acquitted, with 2 of those cases being reopened or new charges being brought. A total of 1,520,000 TL [$561,570] of compensation was being demanded from 4 journalists and 2 newspapers.

This data reflects only those cases that were noted by the media and those that Bianet reported on.

Here is the breakdown of these 3 months


Turkey’s Media Watchdog RTUK Fines “Lesbian Relationship” and “Strawberry Flavored Condoms”

RTUK issued fines to a TV channel for broadcasting a film containing a lesbian relationship, and two other channels for broadcasting nudity and a dialogue on a “strawberry flavored condom.”

Source: “RTÜK’ten “lezbiyen ilişki” ve “çilekli prezervatif” cezası!” (“RTUK (The Supreme Board of Radio and Television) Fines “Lesbian Relationship” and “Strawberry Flavored Condom”),, 10 January 2015

The Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTUK) fined each of the three channels an amount of 12,353 TL (approx 5370 USD) for “sexuality.”

RTUK asserted that the cause of the fine was the appearance of a lesbian relationship in the movie “Illegal in Blue” broadcast on Channel MGM: “It is identified that the sexual intercourse which [was shown] is defined as a lesbian relationship between two women. It was established that the movie violates the article that states “broadcasts must not be obscene.”

“Strawberry flavored condom” is cause for punishment!

According to RTUK, another reason for the fines is a dialog on “strawberry flavored condom.” A fine has been issued to the TV series “Ah Biz Kadınlar” (“Oh Us Women”) broadcast on TV 2 on account of the fact that, “In dialogues, strawberry flavored condoms are mentioned. The messages which are given on TV during the hours when children are watching must be selected carefully.”

The movie “Crossing Over” broadcast on Moviemax Premier had its share on the grounds that: “Two naked characters are having a conversation in bed. The scenes identified include  an appearance of a woman’s sexual organs and make them a focus and agitate feelings of shame and shyness [in the wider community].”