LGBTQ+ organisation filed criminal complaint against Turkish Islamist newspaper for hate speech

An LGBTQ+ organisation in Turkey filed a criminal complaint against the Islamist newspaper Yeni Akit over the hate speech in its news and targeting LGBTQ+ individuals and organisations, Turkish news site T24 reported on Sunday. 

KAOS GL, founded in 1994, one of the oldest and largest LGBTQ+ rights organisation in Turkey, filed the criminal complaint against Yeni Şafak saying the Islamist paper adopts hate speech in its reports. The organisation said some phrases the newspaper used like "homosexual perverts", "homos fed by German foundations' and western countries' funds", "despicable homosexuals" were elements of a crime besides being hate speech.

Yeni Akit newspaper on July 1 said that the United Nations was “funding the spread of homosexuality” through a project, which is being carried out jointly with KAOS GL.

“It has been learnt that in May alone, 266 presentations for inspiring homosexual perversion were carried out in various provinces throughout Turkey under the name of advising refugees,” the newspaper said.

Yeni Akit also called for the country’s 18 LGBTQ+ groups to be officially shut down as foreign-funded provocations. Under the headline “Close these pervert associations!” the paper criticised the extension of legal protections for the groups, which it called “nests of subversion”.

In November, once again, the Islamist newspaper targeted LGBTQ+ organisations when they attended a book fair in Istanbul. "Books published by perverts are readily on sale," Yeni Akit said. 

Kerem Dikmen, the lawyer of KAOS GL, said the number of the publications adopting hate speech in Turkey has sharply increased, and "the main reason behind it is impunity."

"The authorities do not impose sanctions against hate speech, and the courts justify those kinds of reports on the grounds of 'freedom of the press'. However, the European Court of the Human Rights decided the hate speech cannot be evaluated on the grounds of freedom of speech," Dikmen said. 

"A person who publicly denigrates a part of the population on the basis of social class, race, religion, sect, gender or region is punished with imprisonment from six months to one year," according to the Turkish Penal Code's 216th article.

Dikmen said the organisation would base its criminal complaint against Yeni Akit to 216th article.

Homosexuality is legal in Turkey, although there has been increasing pressure put on LGBTQ+ groups since the declaration of a state of emergency following a failed coup attempt in July 2016.

The Governor of Istanbul on June 30 banned the holding of an LGBTQ+ pride parade in the city for a fourth consecutive year. Turkish police dispersed the crowd gathered in Taksim for the pride with tear gas and batons and detained some LGBTQ+ individuals.