Gay rights activist sued by PM fined for using word ‘queer’ in tweet

Gay rights activist sued by PM fined for using word ‘queer’ in tweet

Gay rights activist sued by PM fined for using word ‘queer’ in tweet

Gay rights activist Levent Pişkin (C) addresses the crowd during a demonstration.

A gay rights activist was fined 1,500 Turkish Liras by a court on May 22 for using the word “queer” in a tweet, responding to a statement last July by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that he was “a perfect Alevi.”

“We expect a statement from Erdoğan saying ‘I am a perfect queer.’ We are not going to learn about queerness from you. Kisses. #LGBTinConstitution,” Levent Pişkin tweeted after Erdoğan’s message to Alevis, ironically mocking the prime minister’s tendency to state that the government knows best about everything.

On July, as tensions between the government and Alevis rose after the Gezi Park protests, Erdoğan said that if the Alevi faith meant “loving the caliph Ali,” he was “the perfect Alevi,” referring to the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad. Ali is particularly revered by Alevis.

Prosecutors had demanded up to one year and four months in prison for Pişkin, alleging that his tweet contained “slander and heavy provocation.”

The court ruled for a prison sentence of 2 months and 15 days, which was then converted into a fine of 1,500 Turkish Liras. It stated, however, that the case would be dismissed if Pişkin did not commit a similar offense in five years.

Pişkin denied the charges during the trial, telling the court that as a gay man he intended the word “not as an insult, but rather as an expression of sexual orientation.”

“Being queer is neither a shame nor a sin. Claiming one’s identity is the result of the struggle we have given as an association for 21 years. Erdoğan and his supporters learned nothing about queer despite 80,000 shouted it during the last Gay Pride. So we have to teach them. Let us teach them, because we know very well about queerness,” Pişkin said in his defense.

He also noted the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) jurisprudence regarding criticism against politicians.

Pişkin’s lawyer Tora Pekin said they rejected the court ruling that the message contained an insult, adding that they would now file an individual application to the Constitutional Court.