Law of Misdemeanors

Sputnik: Turkish Constitutional Court rules sex workers cannot be fined on the Law of Misdemeanors

Upon the application of a transsexual sex worker, the Turkish Constitutional Court decided that police officers cannot issue fines against sex workers based on the Law of Misdemeanors. The high court approved the verdict with majority of votes and the decision would establish a precedent.

Source: “Constitutional Court: Sex workers can not be fined on Law of Misdemeanors” (“AYM: Seks işçilerine Kabahatlar Kanunu’ndan para cezası kesilemez”), Sputnik, 21.12.2017,

According to a report by Deniz Ayas of Sözcü daily newspaper, a police squad issued a fine against a sex worker based on Law of Misdemeanors No. 5326 as she was waiting for clients in a 2014 incident. The sex worker protested the fine of 91 Turkish Liras and took it to the court. Yet the local court ruled for the law enforcers.

After the appeals procedures, the sex worker took the case to the Constitutional Court where her objection was evaluated. The detailed ruling was issued in the Official Gazette Thursday and included striking evaluations.

The verdict, which is to become a legal precedent was reached with a majority of votes and found the sex worker to be right, emphasizes that the procedure carried out based on the Law of Misdemeanors No.5326 dated March 30, 2005 cannot be valid.

The Law of Misdemeanors does not include prostitution bargaining

The reason for the ruling was stated as the noncompliance between the act of “disturbing others with the aim of prostitution” as reported on the administrative fine of the police officer and the article defined on Art. 37 of Law No. 5326; suggesting that in this incident the act “does not correspond to prostitution”.

“It cannot be fined”


It was stressed that the verdict was made based on the principle “No one can be fined due to an act which is not considered criminal based on the law in force at the time. No one can be sentenced to a heavier sentence than the one defined for that crime at the time the crime was committed”. As a result, it was decided that the right of the transvestite* was violated and that the 2 thousand lira cost of “judicial procedures” be paid to her. One member of Constitutional Court objected to the verdict.

Verdict sets legal precedent

The verdict sets a legal precedent for the practices that will follow. This means that the police will not be able to fine sex workers waiting for clients on the streets and avenues ‘just because they are waiting for clients’.

Translator’s Note: The original article uses the words “transsexual” and “transvestite” interchangeably. The article was translated verbatim so as to demonstrate the original wording of the reporting.

For more on the use of the Law of Misdemeanors, please see these translations.

Police Harassment, House Raids and Detainment in Istanbul

Source: “İstanbul’da Polis Tacizi, Ev Baskınları ve Gözaltı”, (“Police Harassment, House Raids and Detainment”), Pembe Hayat, December 4, 2014,

Over the last week the police have targeted trans women and sex workers in Istanbul. House raids were conducted targeting the homes of trans people working and living in Findikzade and Haseki regions.

The police arbitrarily detained trans women street sex workers the previous week and took them to the Venereal Diseases Hospital, also known in slang as“Can Can”. This past week they conducted house raids. The women were released after being subjected to blood tests.

The police acquired trans women’s phone numbers and addresses through the internet and social media and raided their homes. Women were detained without cause and some of the women’s residences were sealed by the police.

Transwomen who have been harassed by the police and who point to the recently passed “Domestic Security Blanket Bill” as the cause behind these arrests and raids, will object to the fines they are issued based on the Law of Misdemeanors. The new bill has created major concern among the LGBTI community and trans women sex workers.

Read “the New Domestic Security Legislation and Its Potential Implications for LGBTI Individuals” to access trans activist and lawyer Idil Su’s report.

HDP’s Tuncel’s Proposal on the Law of Misdemeanors



I hereby submit my legal proposal for amendments to the Law of Misdemeanors File No: 5376 dated 30.03.2005 with reasonings.

I request that the necessary actions be taken.

Sebahat Tuncel

Istanbul Parliamentarian


The acceptance of an act as a crime or misdemeanor is determined by penal policies. That the act contains an unjust character is the necessary requirement for it to be a crime or a misdemeanor. Classifying an act as crime or misdemeanor through the quantitative measurement of the unjust character is a requirement of modern democracies.

The classification of “Misdemeanors” and “Crimes” in the Turkish Penal Code No: 765 has lost its validity in terms of democratic regimes and the tendency to remove misdemeanors from crimes has risen. The need for the regulation of administrative sanctions arose after the Turkish Penal Code No: 5237 repealed Code No: 765 and led to the need for Law No: 5376.