Friday, July 28, 2006

Turkish Government Seizes Gay Magazine

According to a press release by KAOS GL, a gay-rights organization in Turkey, the most recent issue of its magazine, also called KAOS GL, has been seized by the government. The issue, which discusses pornography and gay culture, was found to be pornographic by the 12th district court in Ankara. All issues were ordered by Judge Tekman Savas Nemli to be confiscated, as some of the content and pictures in the issue were deemed to breach general morality. A quote:

In the decision of Ankara Chief Republican Prosecutor's Office Press Crimes Investigation Bureau, the _expression that some texts and pictures are against "protection of general morality". But this _expression does not state which pictures and texts should be banned on what ground.
And another:

It is the first time that our magazine is banned on the same day it was delivered from the printing house even before it is distributed to bookstores. Kaos GL, which started to be published in 1994, was recorded legally at the end of 1999 and the Republican Chief Prosecutor did not find it "pornographic or obscene." Two of its issues following its registeration by officials were distributed in closed envelopes because of the Prime Ministry Council for Protection of Juveniles from Obscene Publications. Other than this, Kaos GL has not faced any investigation
And one more:

Today presentation of views on women bodies with a sexist mentality makes no problem but scientific, cultural and artistic criticism of pornography via gay-lesbian sexuality is seen and banned as an attitude against 'general morality'.

In the magazine with contributions from writers Ahmet Tulgar, Fatih Özgüven, Güner Kuban, Hasan Bülent Kahraman, Mehmet Bilal Dede, Meltem Arıkan, painter Taner Ceylan and photography artistı Bikem Ekberzade', the relation of pornography with homosexuality is discussed.

The file with headline "Visuality of sexuality, sexuality of visuality: Pornography", the doors of the world of pornography that invades the globe are opened and we question how all the images that confuse our minds turn into pornographic elements.

Now with the demand of Ankara Chief Republican Prosecutor and decision of Ankara 12th Justice Court, examination and questioning of pornography by writers, artists, academics, feminists and gay-lesbian individuals have been banned.
Interestingly, the press release points out that the ruling coincided with Turkey's Press Festival on July 24. Irony?

I wonder how this will affect things. Turkey, even though its population is still overwhelmingly against gay rights, has seemed to adopt a policy of "laissez-faire" towards gay people in the past. Is this a sign of bad things to come?

How will the European Union, with its progressive stance on gay rights, view this? Turkey wants to become a member; will they care about this? This is probably the worst time for something like this to happen. The West is increasingly being seen as meddling too much in the affairs of the East, and criticizing one of the more moderate states might not be a good tactical move. I predict that Western nations will remain silent.

It also seems from the press release that only the one issue is banned, and that KAOS GL can continue to publish, which makes the ruling not only seem less extreme, but minimizes the chances that anyone in the West will speak out, but will rather hope that it blows over. Maybe it's prudish, maybe its cowardly - it depends on how the Turkish government act in the future.

It's a dangerous precedent, nonetheless.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think this will be condemned either from Western countries, in or outside the UN, for the reasons you stated, but perhaps also because it might be seen as blatantly hypocritical.

I don't know too much about any recent censorship issues in the EU (besides the infamous "Video Nasties" list in the UK), but here in North America not too long ago a US judge had copies of an independently-published comic book confiscated for being "pornagraphic" . Also the Canadian border guards are somewhat notorious for having too little oversight and causing trouble for people entering the country over "suspicious" and "pornographic" books, magazines, and comics they are bringing in. I think it's safe to assume EU member countries have similar skeletons in their closets.

July 28, 2006 7:52 PM  
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