The Times, Are They A-Changing?

I came across an article in Gaystarnews that reported that a Turkish journalist, Serdar Arseven,  and the newspaper, Yeni Akit (now called Vakit), have been fined by Turkey’s High Court for insulting the LGBT community. The case arose because the newspaper ran an Arseven-penned piece called ‘Üskül prefers perverts,’ when, Zafer Üskül, then head of the Turkish Parliamentary Human Rights Commission, attended a meeting with KAOS GL, a leading LGBT organisation. Üskül sued both the hack and the rag. The case went all the way to the High Court. The court decided that,

“The freedom of the press does not encompass the freedom to insult the personal freedoms of individuals.”

Generally, I’m not in favour of prosecuting anyone because of an insult. It seems to me that the freedom to insult (though not to incite – a very fine line, I know) is a fundamental component of free speech. Just because I’m offended by what someone says, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to say it. However, in this case, I’m happy with the outcome because the liberal traditions that I cherish have such shallow roots in Turkey that a line must be drawn somewhere. Despite the token fine (about £1,500 for the paper and £400 for the journalist), this huge leap in the right direction should not be underestimated in a Muslim-majority country where LGBT people are, at best, invisible and at worse, well I’m sure you can guess.

9 thoughts on “The Times, Are They A-Changing?

  1. I think Turkey is changing slowly. My sister in law was at my house once and we were watching an American TV show about wedding planning and it happened to be a gay couple getting married. She had no idea what to make of this, so I asked her (playing devil’s advocate) if gay people were allowed to get married in Turkey. She thought about this very carefully before replying that she thinks they are, but there aren’t any gay people in Turkey!! Since then however she has become a real advocate for gay rights and now has a very close gay friend and asked me once ” Yenge do you think Turkey will ever change?” All I had to do was plant the seed in her mind to question what she had always been told and to think outside the box and form her own opinions and she thinks completely differently from the older generations. She in turn will hopefully encourage others to do the same.

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  2. “the freedom of the press does not encompass the freedom to insult the personal freedeom of individuals”
    Got to say I DO agree with that.Freedom of speech is a precious thing and should not be abused just because you have it.To be deliberately offensive,as this journo was is just unacceptable.If I was black/gay/disabled/different in what ever way and someone insulted me in the same deliberate fashion would I sue?Too damn right I would!
    I have too many faults of my own to critise/insult another person for theirs or their lifestyle choices/colour/religion/politics etc. and that probably goes for all of us……

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  3. Hope springs eternal. We are in the throes of supporting a young Turkish man who is coming out – it has been a tough go. I am heartened by this post and by the comments. More offline sometime.

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