Court tries three for ‘insulting Islam’ in banner at Istanbul LGBT march
ISTANBULThe first hearing of a criminal case opened on Oct. 20 against three suspects who tried to participate in the suppressed LGBT pride march in Istanbul in 2015. Prosecutors are demanding up to one year in prison for each of the defendants on charges of “insulting religious values” for carrying a banner bearing the names of three Islamic holy months.
Only two of the three defendants were present at the case’s first hearing at the Istanbul Penal Court of First Instance. The defendants, identified only by the initials H.C.K. and G.Ö., denied the charges and said they participated in the march with peaceful intentions but were attacked by the police.
They also said the real perpetrator of the crime of “inciting hatred among people” and “insulting” was the plaintiff who filed the case.
The plaintiff had filed three individual criminal complaints over the defendants’ banner, which read “Ramadan cannot limit the love between Shaban and Rajab.” The banner was referring to three holy months in the Islamic calendar, which are also used as male names in Turkey.
“I don’t think the content of the banner includes any insult against religious values. On the contrary, I think it was prepared solely with peaceful intentions. The banner talks about love between the two months, so there cannot be any insult,” said one of the defendants at the hearing.
The plaintiff had demanded that an expert report be prepared on the case, which the court turned down. The court also turned down the plaintiff’s request to be present during the trials, on the grounds that he was not a party directly affected by the alleged crime.
The second hearing of the case will be held on Dec. 27.