Hate speech in Turkey

Turkey’s Former Minister of Interior: ‘Gay marriage is the destruction of humanity’

The former Minister of Interior and current candidate for parliament running with the AKP [Turkey’s ruling party] from Erzurum, opposed gay marriage on TGRT TV News program and said that “the tribe of Lot” was destroyed because of this.

Source: “Efkan Ala da hedef gösterme peşinde: Eşcinsel evlilik insanlığın helakıdır” (“Efkan Ala is also intent on pointing people out as targets: ‘Gay marriage is the destruction of humanity’”), Birgün, 2 June 2015, http://www.birgun.net/haber-detay/efkan-ala-da-hedef-gosterme-pesinde-escinsel-evlilik-insanligin-helakidir-82104.html

The former Minister of Interior and current candidate for parliament running with the AKP [Turkey’s ruling party] from Erzurum, opposed gay marriage on TGRT TV News program and said that “the tribe of Lot” was destroyed because of this.

Pointing Barış Sulu, the HDP’s Eskişehir LGBTI MP candidate, as a target[1], he said:

“For God’s sake, look at these candidates that the HDP put forth. I can’t even bring myself to say it. They have put forth candidates that our citizen [sic] cannot accept.”

Efkan Ala continued:

“Our Kurdish brothers are religious people. For God’s sake, look at these candidates that the HDP put forth. I can’t even bring myself to say it. They have put forth candidates that our citizen [sic] cannot accept. I mean let me say this, they have put forth a transvestite candidate. They put forth homosexuals as candidates. In its election declaration, the HDP says that these [sic] will be afforded all sorts of rights, of the right of a man to marry and be with a man and of the right of a woman to marry and be with a woman. We are saying that we are against such things on topics that our morality our tradition rejects. What is this, a man marrying a man, a woman marrying a woman. The tribe of Lot was destroyed because of this[1]. That is, this is the destruction of humanity.”

[1] Turkey has a history of political violence, hate crimes, and political assassinations that followed a governmental authority figure and/or mainstream media singling out a person or a group out as rightfully injurable with impunity. -Trans.

Istanbul LGBTT Activist: “Assailants say ‘you can murder fags, there is no penalty for that’”

7 trans women were assaulted in Istanbul in the last month. Kıvılcım Arat of Istanbul LGBTI said: “It is the government, which avoids producing legislation [against hate crimes] and which issues press statements that point people out as targets, who is responsible for the increase in assaults.”

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “Saldırganlar ‘İbne Öldürmenin Cezası Yok’ Diyor” (“Assailants say ‘you can murder fags, there is no penalty for that’”), Bianet, 1 June 2015, http://www.bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/164977-saldirganlar-ibne-oldurmenin-cezasi-yok-diyor

7 trans women were assaulted in Istanbul in the last month [May 2015].

Some assaults occurred out of nowhere while women were walking on the street, some occurred in women’s homes. Other trans women who heard that trans women have been assaulted rushed to the hospitals and waited outside the ER in solidarity, even when they did not know the victim.

Yet, the attacks continue and very few of the women apply to rights organizations regarding what they experienced and initiate legal procedures.

Istanbul LGBTI [sic- correct name Istanbul LGBTT], one of the organizations working for trans rights, reported that only three trans women applied [for support] following the attacks. Two of them did not continue the necessary legal procedures afterwards; one is waiting for her recovery.

Why is it that these women, who struggle for their lives every day, do not engage in a legal struggle? Kıvılcım Arat, member of the board of directors of Istanbul LGBTI [sic], responded to this question: “Because they do not trust the judiciary.”

“They are reluctant [to pursue cases] because they do not trust the judiciary. Activists need to intervene at that stage. Unfortunately, that is not always possible.”

Arat tied the high number of assaults during the month to the statements by government authorities. While they have avoided issuing statements regarding LGBTIs up until now, government authorities have begun bringing the issue to the forefront as the elections are approaching. Arat reminds us of the statements by President Erdoğan, “We do not put forth homosexual candidates,” and by Prime Minister Davutoğlu, “Homosexuals caused the destruction of the tribe of Lot.”

“Ever since the HDP [which has an LGBTI candidate and actively campaigns for LGBTI rights -Trans.] started its election campaign, the statements by government authorities about LGBTIs have been encouraging people to commit hate crimes. Recently, following the statement by the President, two trans women were assaulted.”


LGBT People are not protected against hate speech in Grand National Assembly of Turkey

The campaign against hate speech and discriminatory statements in the Turkish Parliament does not cover “sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression”. It has also been revealed that gay and trans people are excluded from the scope of protection.

Source: Murat Köylü, “TBMM’de LGBT’ler nefret söylemine karşı korunmuyor”, (“LGBT People are not protected against hate speech in Grand National Assembly of Turkey”), Kaos GL, 03 February 2015, http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18630

The campaign against hate speech and discriminatory statements in the Turkish Parliament does not cover the statements “sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression”. It has also been revealed that gay and trans people are excluded from the scope of protection.

The parliamentary question from Sezgin Tanrıkulu, Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of the Turkish Parliament, of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), received a response.

The above mentioned parliamentary question on the “prevention of usage of hate speech and discriminative statements in Grand National Assembly of Turkey” submitted to Turkish Parliamentary Speaker’s Office was responded to by Sadık Yakut, Turkish Parliamentary Deputy Speaker.

MP Yakut from Justice and Development Party (AKP) referred to parliamentary immunity in his response and he reminded [the minister] that “according to the Bylaws of Grand National Assembly of Turkey, a person who utters rude and hurtful statements in the General Assembly will be immediately warned by the Chairman, requested to leave the floor in the case of that person’s insistence on speaking and may be excluded from the session if the Chairman deems it necessary”.

Sadık Yakut, Deputy Chairman of Grand National Assembly of Turkey, attracted attention to the Political Ethics Conciliation Commission’s bill of law on preventing hate speech and discriminative statements in the Assembly, which was finalized in December 2012 and submitted to the Parliamentary Speaker’s Office.

In this bill of law from the Commission, which was established with the purpose of developing a clear, honest and accountable understanding of politics and defining ethical principles by making a detailed examination on political ethics, the principle that “any discrimination due to such reasons as language, race, color, gender, political opinion, philosophical belief, religion, age, physical, mental and psychological disabilities shall not be in question” was indicated. The fact is statements such as “sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression” were not indicated and trans and homosexual people’s exclusion from the scope of the protection attracted attention.

In his response, Mr. Yakut also shared the [names of] MPs who received disciplinary punishment in the 24th Term of the 3rd Legislative Year of the Turkish Grand National Assembly.


Serial No

MP who receives disciplinary punishment

Disciplinary Punishment

Other Details re Disciplinary Punishment

Name Surname

Election District



Session No



Kamer Genç


Prohibition from speaking

Digression from the subject being discussed




Kamer Genç


Punishment of  Permanent Exclusion from two sessions

Revilement to Deputy Chairman who chairs the session




Oktay Saral



Carrying out an attack




Özdal Üçer



Rude and hurtful utterances



TBMM Başkanlığı “milletvekillerinin, danışmanların, yasama uzmanlarının ve yardımcı personelin nefret söylemine karşı farkındalık düzeylerinin artırılmasına” ilişkin olarak ise TBMM’nin Etik Komisyonu’na işaret etti.

The Presidency of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey pointed to the Assembly’s Ethics Commission regarding “increasing the level of awareness of parliament members, consultants, legislative experts and supportive personnel against hate speech”.

Sezgin Tanrıkulu, MP from Republican People’s Party (CHP) asked the following in his parliamentary question:

1- Is any kind of mechanism projected which follows, assesses and plans the required steps through analysis on hate speech (or speech which have a high potential of being understood as hate speech) by MPs?

2- Which sanctions are applied or could be applied against hate speech and discriminative statements by MPs?

3- In the previous legislative year, was any provision of a by-law or any other legislation applied due to hate speech, discriminative statement or revilement? If yes, in which cases was it applied?

4- Does the Parliamentary Speaker’s Office plan on any project to increase the awareness and responsibility levels of parliament members, consultants and party group management of hate speech and discriminative language?

Milli Gazete’s Sodom and Gomorrah analogy

Milli Gazete Cover Page, 25 November 2014. Annotated.

Milli Gazete Cover Page, 25 November 2014. Part 1. Annotated. Click for full size.


Milli Gazete: Invitation to morality!


Death threats after gay wedding

Source: “Eşcinsel düğünün ardından ölüm tehdidi yağdı,” (“Death threats after gay wedding”), Radikal, 13 October 2014, http://www.radikal.com.tr/turkiye/escinsel_dugunun_ardindan_olum_tehdidi_yagdi-1218459

Following Turkey’s first gay wedding, the couple lost their home and their jobs and began receiving death threats. There are women among those who have been threatening the couple.


Turkey’s first gay “wedding” turned the couple’s lives into a nightmare. University students[1] Ekin Keser and Emrullah Tüzün recently got married in Istanbul through an unofficial wedding ceremony. Hürriyet’s Fırat Alkaç reports that the couple’s lives became entirely distraught following the ceremony.

Tüzün (28) said, “My family and my siblings are threatening to kill me. People around us began to express negative reactions as soon as our wedding was publicized. Our landlord kicked us out of our apartment. I used to work as a waiter in Kadıköy and I got laid off. Ekin is a university student so he is not working. We have no income and are experiencing hardship.”

Women threaten too

Twenty one year old Ekin Keser is unable to step foot at his university because of ongoing threats. Keser stated that he is receiving death threats on social media and added the following: “I am originally from Antakya. People have been threatening me for denigrating Antakya. My family already knew I was gay but they did not receive the news of my getting married well at all. Emrullah and I have been friends for three years. We were already living together. We got married as a step towards breaking taboos. We saw that those homophobic people who threaten us are after all a minority. Some of them are women… Ninety five percent of the people around us congratulated us. They were supportive. Now, all we want is for our families and our immediate circles to give us a break.”


[1] The news story later mentions that Ekin Keser is a university student and that Emrullah Tüzün is not. However, at this point both were referred to as students. The translation sticks to the original news content.

Press Statement by luBunya Students on Singer’s Homophobic Statements

Source: luBunya-Bogazici [Bosphorus University Student Organization against Heterosexism], “Basına, Kamuoyuna ve Tüm İnsan Hakları Destekçilerine Duyurulur!” (“For immediate release to press and public and all of the civil right supporters”), Facebook, 17 September 2014, https://m.facebook.com/LuBUnyaBogazici/photos/a.152506168117885.25456.132128600155642/742015985833564/?type=1

The singer named Fatma Uludan Canevi, known as Niran Unsal, commits a crime of provoking the public to hate and hostility or insulting it via her social media account.

Canevi makes offensive statements openly by using the published photos of the audience who went to a legally organized concert [by Lady Gaga]. The photos of the audience show them wearing self-designed clothes in the concert area.

Canevi shared a photo of a person from the audience with a green wig and pink clothes via her social media account and tweeted: “We are not interested in your sexual preferences, go live in your home! We will not let you be role models for our children with such quackery.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 08.33.10

Canevi said “This is the main reason why we worry” by using the photos of other members of the audience with wigs and glasses. And “Mothers and fathers, it is our humane duty to say STOP to all of those poisoning the youth of this country!”


President Erdoğan Sues Pişkin for Damages Worth 50 Thousand TL

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Erdoğan’dan Pişkin’e 50 bin liralık tazminat davası!” (“Erdoğan Sues Pişkin for Damages Worth 50 Thousand TL”) KaosGL.org, 29 August 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=17425

President Erdoğan files a new lawsuit against Levent Pişkin, an LGBTI activist, for a tweet Pişkin had made and demands 50,000 TL (23,155 USD) in damages.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has filed a new lawsuit against LGBTI activist Levent Pişkin for a tweet he had made and demanded damages worth 50,000 TL (23,155 USD). This is the second time Erdoğan has filed a suit against an LGBTI activist over a tweet.

The verdict of the last case, in which Pişkin was sentenced to pay 1,500 TL (695 USD) in damages was cited as evidence.

Press Releases made in support of Pişkin also targeted

The new case also targeted press statements made in support for Levent Pişkin. In the filing, Erdoğan’s lawyers wrote, “The whole incident was deliberately misrepresented. The defendant continues to cross the line and grossly insult the acting Prime Minister.”

In the notification document sent to Pişkin, Erdoğan’s lawyers argued that “Erdoğan’s honor, dignity and reputation were damaged,” with the damage estimated at 50,000 TL.

“A fag* myself, I would never use the word ‘fag’ as an insult”

Pişkin, in his previous comments to KaosGL.org, had stressed that  ‘fag’ is a word that has been reclaimed by LGBTI people. LGBTI solidarity organizations had responded to the case by saying “The case against the use of the word ’fag’ has been filed against all of us. Homosexuality/Faggotry is not an insult, but a sexual orientation.”

What prompted the case?

Levent Pişkin had tweeted, “The next declaration I am expecting from Erdoğan is, ‘I am a perfect fag. Obviously I will not learn how to be a fag from you.’ Kisses #LGBTIintheConstitution.*” Prime Minister Erdoğan had then attacked Pişkin through the media. Levent Pişkin had, in turn, filed a criminal complaint against the Prime Minister for insulting his sexual orientation.

Presiding judge removed from the case

While Pişkin’s complaint was not processed, Erdoğan’s action had resulted in the sentencing of Pişkin for libel (125/2) to two months and fifteen days of incarceration, later converted to a 1,500 TL fine.

The first judge appointed for the case had told Pişkin at the first hearing, “Do not be afraid, we are the judges of the December 17th case.** Feel free to tell the truth.” The second hearing, originally scheduled for March 25, was postponed, the original judge removed from the case, and a new judge appointed.


**Referring to the corruption allegations raised against Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, then the Prime Minister of Turkey, and circles close to him on and after 17 December 2013. 

Translators 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. In this sense, ibne’s current connotations lie somewhere between the American English terms “fag” and “queer.” In this translation “fag” is used to stand for ibne, and “faggotry” for ibnelik, the state of being an ibne.