23/10/2023 | Writer: Selma Koçak

The second trial of the lawsuit filed against journalist Semra Çelebi on the grounds of “publicly degrading the symbols of State sovereignty” due to her post including an LGBTI+ flag, was heard on October 19th.

“This case is an example of a long-standing pattern of hate crime against LGBTI+s” Kaos GL - News Portal for LGBTI+

Barış Kop’s article first published in MLSA.

The prosecutor requested that journalist Semra Çelebi be sentenced on charges of “publicly degrading the symbols of State sovereignty”, which carries a six-month to two-year prison sentence.

The second hearing of the case against Gazete Kadıköy editor-in-chief Semra Çelebi, defended by the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), for “publicly degrading the symbols of State sovereignty” under Article 300/1 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), was held at the Istanbul Anatolian 10th Criminal Court of First Instance.

“I was targeted, this a political case”

Semra Çelebi attended the hearing together with lawyers Fatih Aydın and Jiyan Tosun. Trade union representatives were also present at the hearing. Çelebi, who was accused of “degrading the Turkish flag by referring to a poem written for the Turkish flag” for a message she shared on Twitter (now X platform) about LGBTI+, said the following in her defense against the charges:

“The Twitter account in question belongs to me. I tweeted the post. I posted in 202o using a phote I took in 2014. There was an LGBTI+ flag in the photo. I made this post during Pride Week in 2020. I stated that I stand with them against hate crimes. There wasn’t a Turkish flag when I made the statement which is the subject of the charge. I made no accusation against the Turkish flag. As soon as I tweeted the post, a campaign was begun against me. AKP (Justice and Development Party) Chair of Kadıköy District is the person who did this. He pointed me as a target. I am the editor-in-chief of Gazete Kadıköy. He targeted all of my colleagues. This is a political case.”

Following Çelebi, lawyer Fatih Aydın took the floor and said “The trial is also procedurally flawed. At this stage we demand an immediate acquittal.”

Expressing his opinion, the prosecutor said the followings:

“According to the evidence collected during the prosecution phase of the trial, from the defense of the defendant, who admitted that the social media account that was the subject of the crime in the court phase belonged to her; as it is understood that the defendant committed the crime attributed to her in a way that resembles the Turkish flag mentioned in the poem by Mithat Cemal Kuntay ‘what makes a flag a real flag is the blood on it, if someone died for the country, it is homeland’, by posting ‘even if what makes the flag a real flag is faggots’, it is recommended that the defendant be punished under Article 300/1 of the Turkish Penal Code.”

Lawyer Aydın stated that he disagreed with the prosecutor’s opinion, asked for time to make a defense against the final opinion, and presented the court with the file in which an acquittal had been handed down by the Istanbul 18th Criminal Court of First Instance for a similar crime.

Lawyer Jiyan Tosun said, “There is a long history of hate crimes against LGBTI+ people in these countries. This case is an example of that. Changing a written poem cannot constitute a crime in itself.”

Announcing its interim decision, the court accepted the additional time requested by the defendants’ lawyers and ruled that the final hearing will take place on 6 November 2023 at 14:15.

Tags: human rights, media