Calling gay people 'perverts' an insult, top court says
Supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT) take part in the Hong Kong gay pride parade. AFP photo
Turkey's High Court of Appeals has ordered daily Yeni Akit to pay compensation for insulting gay people in a headline it printed in 2008, daily Radikal reported today.
Yeni Akit, which is now known as "Vakit," printed a story titled "Üskül prefers perverts," concerning Zafer Üskül, the head of Parliamentary Human Rights Commission at the time, after he attended an "International Anti-Homophobism Meeting" organized by KAOS GL, a leading support association for Turkey’s LGBT community.
A piece written by Yeni Akit columnist Serdar Arseven defined Üskül as "an AKP [Justice and Development Party] member who gave assurances to she-males” in reference to Üskül's words during the meeting in which he said the government guaranteed that gay and lesbian people would not be segregated because of their sexual orientation.
“[Üskül] went on and attended a meeting by sexual perverts! A meeting of [gays],” Arseven wrote.
KAOS GL filed a lawsuit against Yeni Akit and Arseven, seeking compensation for the headline and the related piece. But the lawsuits were rejected by two Ankara courts on the grounds that the newspaper was "within the limits of criticism."
But the High Court of Appeals overruled the decisions of the two courts, saying, "The freedom of the press does not encompass the freedom to insult the personal freedoms of individuals."
The court's decision said KAOS GL was an organization that sought to protect the rights of people with different sexual orientation and that Zafer Üskül was a member of Parliament who responded to requests by KAOS GL.
The court said Yeni Akit insulted people with different sexual orientations in a way which could not be considered criticism and thus sentenced the newspaper and Arseven to pay compensation.
The paper has been ordered to pay 4,000 Turkish Liras while Arseven has been sentenced to pay 2,000 liras in damages.