Alex Blaze

Freedom of speech in Turkey

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 08, 2007 1:02 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: ataturk, European Union, freedom of speech, Greece, Turkey

This is really going to help Turkey with those EU aspirations:

a video posting alleging that all Turks are gay, as was the modern Republic's beloved founder, Ataturk, proved too much.

Turks are devoted to the memory of Ataturk, and slandering his name is punishable by imprisonment.

The febrile Turkish press has pounced on the story of Greeks posting insulting YouTube videos as yet another example of their neighbour's villany, and demanded that something be done.

A court in the capital Istanbul banned the YouTube website, and the country's largest telecoms company, TurkTelecom, complied.

Looking past the implication on both the Greek's and the Turk's sides that calling someone gay is actually an insult (remember how insulted many Greek-Americans were at the implication that Alexander the Great was anything but straight in the movie Alexander, and how weird that was considering that everyone knows that Alexander was gayer than Christmas?), and let's look at the fact that for an insult by a few private citizens, the Turkish government has banned an entire forum. It's not just saying that it's bad to call someone gay who the Turks like, it's saying that it's illegal to provide the means for others to do so. It's like banning people from yelling on the street corner if one of those people yells that Ataturk was gay.

This won't help Turkey's EU accession talks. From the Financial Times:

Turkey was told on Monday by the European Union that it had to safeguard freedom of expression in the country as a "matter of urgency" amid diminishing expectations that Ankara's stalled membership bid can be revived.
Freedom of speech is such a huge issue for Turkish accession that the BBC puts it on par with Turkey's Cyprus woes:
The European Union says Turkey must open its ports and airports to traffic from EU member Cyprus. Turkey says it will not do this until the EU takes steps to end the Turkish Cypriot community's economic isolation.

The EU also says that Turkey's efforts to bring its laws into line with European standards have slowed down. It has especially called on Turkey to repeal a law which it says undermines freedom of speech.

There are lots of other reasons that EU member states are against Turkish accession, but this is one of the biggies. And GLBT people, as usual, have found themselves as political footballs in a much larger political issue. And in the end, Turkish queer people will end up getting screwed in this game, as Turkey continues to block queer media:
Turkish courts have a history of banning things, including gay material.

An issue of the country's only gay magazine was banned last July.

Judge Tekman Savas Nemli decided on the confiscation and seizure of Kaos GL after Republican Prosecutor Metin Sezgin claimed the content breached "general morality."

It really seems like the Turkish government is cutting off its nose to spite its face. But I guess accession to the EU is just another material issue that was overlooked by a government in the quest to belittle and hurt LGBT people.

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