30/05/2014 | Writer: Yıldız Tar
Levent Piskin, the LGBTI activist who received a pecuniary penalty for insulting the Turkish Prime Minister, talked to kaosGL.org.
Levent Piskin, the LGBTI activist who received a pecuniary penalty for insulting the Turkish Prime Minister commented: “It was not me; it was ibnelik* that was judged… Intent is paramount in cases of defamation. It is with which intent you utter a phrase that determines the insult.”
Levent Piskin was sentenced to a pecuniary fine of 1500 TL (720 USD) as a result of the “fag” tweet defamation case filed by the Prime Minister. In an atmosphere of hate, in which insulting, hate-mongering, minority targeting publications such as Yeni Akit go unpunished; a “fag” citizen’s demand for an explanation from the head of the executive, legislative and even the judiciary branches of the state was penalized.
Piskin who said, “it was not me, it was faggotry being judged” had also filed a criminal complaint, which was dismissed by the court. We talked to Piskin about the proceedings as well as the legal and social implications of the case.
Piskin said there had to be intent in order for him to be punished for insult. A “fag” himself, he reminded us that he could not possibly have used the word “fag” as an insult.
Piskin added that he would refile the criminal complaint against Prime Minister Erdogan and that he will continue his struggle for “faggotry” in every medium.
The case is now over. You have been punished. Does this mean that you have officially insulted the Prime Minister?
We have not seen the particulars of the verdict yet, so we are not informed as to why we have been punished. It was not me but faggotry that was judged in this case. I never thought this case was against me as an individual. After the complaints were filed against me, 17 different LGBTI organizations have made statements owning up to faggotry. It is already on our banners and lollipops. The pecuniary sentence was postponed but they will make me pay for the Prime Minister’s solicitor’s bills as if he really needs me to.
Did you actually call the Prime Minister a fag?
No, as you know, I had not. I had said that, after his previous comments, I was now waiting for the PM to declare “I am a perfect fag. Obviously I will not learn to be a fag from you.” However, I believe, Erdogan sees the mere mention of the words “Erdogan” and “fag” in the same sentence as a great insult. It is quite clear that I have not called him a fag.
So it is more of a wish for him to stand up for the identity of fags?
That is exactly what I meant. Now that you stand up for everyone and that you take possession of all identities, you should take possession of ours too. (We laugh together) Anyway… Not that we need him to.
The sentence was given from the lowest limit possible. The case filed against me was insulting a public official but the sentence I received was for insulting anybody. I believe the judge gave me a lower limit sentence out of fear. You see, the current decision is below the limit for appeal in monetary or jail terms. Same thing goes for the decision to postpone the declaration of verdict. If we had a chance to appeal, the case would come apart and the judge would have to struggle with it all over again. I suppose the presiding judge wanted to refrain from harming both sides.
Is “fag” officially a word of insult now?
Yes and no. I will follow this verdict up with a complaint to the Constitutional Court. I will most probably be proven right at the end of this process and I will have established that “fag” was not used as an insult. I mean, as a fag myself, I could not possibly have used the word as an insult. Intent is paramount in cases of Insult. It is with which intent you utter what phrase that determines the insult.
Let us say that the Constitutional Court has established that the word “fag” is not an insult, will targeting publications such as Yeni Akit be free to use it on their headlines?
They will not. Because motivations will be different. Intent is important in any crime. In your example, the motivation is hate and the intent is to insult, which makes it a legally different situation. Another significance of our case is to establish that being a fag should no longer be regarded as an insult. The LGBTI movement can also establish a change in people’s perceptions so that the word “fag” will not be identified as such. This is what I believe could happen.
What about the countersuit you filed?
I filed a criminal complaint along with my written deposition to the prosecutor’s office but the prosecutor did not start an investigation. It cannot be investigated anyway due to parliamentary immunity. But I will refile the criminal complaint. I will sue for damages, punitive and otherwise, in the next stage.
*The Turkish term ibne is originally derived from the Arabic word “boy” and is widely used today as a derogatory slang for gay men. The Turkish Language Institute Dictionary defines ibne as “a passive homosexual man” and “a word said in anger.” The term is being reclaimed by many in the LGBTI movement in Turkey. In this sense, ibne’s current connotations lie somewhere between the American English terms “fag” and “queer.” In this translation “fag” is used to stand for ibne, and “faggotry” for ibnelik, the state of being an ibne.
Translation: LGBTI News Turkey