Turkish cartoonists fined for implying President is gay

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Two Turkish cartoonists have escaped jail for suggesting President Tayyip Erdogan is gay.

They published a cartoon in satirical magazine Penguen in which the President greets an official, who is making a hand gesture used to mock gay people in Turkey. The case was brought against them after a reader complained the cartoon was against the country’s moral values. Lawyers representing President Erdogan pushed for a conviction for “insulting a public official”.

The pair were facing 11 months in jail, but were spared based on good behaviour during the trial. They have been fined 7,000 Turkish lira (£1,830).

Being gay has been legal in Turkey since 1858, but the country is still largely conservative on the issue, will no legal rights or protections for LGBT people. Many people – including a 13 year old boy – have faced legal trouble for insulting President Erdogan.

Recently, the European Court ruled that Turkey could no longer force trans people to be sterilized in order to gain legal recognition of their gender. 

In October, a gay couple in Turkey faced widespread homophobic abuse, including death threats, after staging a symbolic wedding ceremony.