Ultra-nationalist group official fined 4,000 Turkish Liras over LGBT Istanbul Pride March threat
A court in Istanbul on Dec. 14 gave a fine of 4,000 Turkish Liras ($1,035) to the deputy head of the Alperen Hearths, an ultranationalist youth group linked to religious nationalist Great Union Party (BBP), over his threats against last year’s LGBT Pride March in Istanbul, which was banned by the Governor’s Office.
During the final hearing at the Istanbul Anadolu 44th Criminal Court of first instance, the judge noted that Kürşat Mican had previously been sentenced to six years and freed on probation in 2013.
Eren Keskin, a lawyer for the LGBT complainants against Mican, said he engaged in “discrimination and threats,” against both domestic and international law.
Fellow lawyer Eren Kara said the trial would be significant in the fight against hate crimes against LGBT individuals, warning that Mican would continue to commit the same crime given his previous record unless charged.
Mican’s lawyer, Mehmet Üstündağ, claimed that his client’s words did not target the LGBT complainants and was instead a call for the state to take action against the Pride March.
Mican also denied the accusations, saying the state “had a responsibility to protect the religious values of the public.”
The court initially sentenced Mican to eight months in jail on charges of “insulting a segment of the public based on sexual differences via the media.” It then decreased this sentence to six months and 20 days due to the defendant’s good conduct during the trial, and subsequently decreased the sentence further by issuing a 4,000-liras fine.
Mican told reporters after the hearing that he would appeal the ruling.
Mican had previously also threatened the LGBT Pride March slated for June 26, 2016 in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, vowing to prevent the march from taking place.
“Dear state officials, don’t make us struggle with these [people]. Either you do what’s necessary or we will. We will take all risks necessary and we will stop the march,” he said.
He also made similar remarks for this year’s Pride March.
“If the state permits it, we will not. We will not allow them to walk. Wherever they march, we will also go. We will close down that street and they will not be able to go there. If we want, our numbers can reach 200,000,” Mican said.
Annual LGBT Pride Marches have been banned for three years running in Turkey.
The first LGBT Pride March permitted by the authorities was held in 2003 in Istanbul and was conducted for 13 years until 2015.
Tens of thousands people took part in the march in 2013 and 2014, which made the Istanbul LGBT Pride March one of the biggest in the region.
However in June 2015 police dispersed the march using tear gas and rubber bullets. It was subsequently banned by the Istanbul Governor’s Office in 2016 and 2017, citing security reasons and “public sensitivities.”