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Court: Turkish newspaper defamed gays

ISTANBUL, Turkey, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Turkey's High Court of Appeals has ordered a newspaper to pay compensation for insulting gay people in a headline calling them "perverts."

The Yeni Akit newspaper, now called "Vakit," ran a headline in 2008 saying "Uskul prefers perverts," referring to Zafer Uskul, at the time the head of the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission, after he attended an "international anti-homophobism meeting," the Hurriyet Daily News said in a report attributed to the Turkish-language daily Radikal.

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A story written by Yeni Akit columnist Serdar Arseven called Uskul "an AKP [Justice and Development Party] member who gave assurances to she-males," in reference to Uskul's saying the government guaranteed gay and lesbian people would not be segregated because of their sexual orientation.

"[Uskul] went on and attended a meeting by sexual perverts! A meeting of [gays]," Arseven wrote.

KAOS GL, a support association for Turkey's LGBT community, filed lawsuits against Yeni Akit and Arseven, seeking compensation for the headline and the related story.

The lawsuits were rejected by two Ankara courts on the grounds the newspaper was "within the limits of criticism," but the High Court of Appeals overruled the decisions.

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"The freedom of the press does not encompass the freedom to insult the personal freedoms of individuals," the appellate court said.

The newspaper has been ordered to pay 4,000 Turkish liras ($2,123), while Arseven has been sentenced to pay 2,000 liras ($1,061) in damages.

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