‘Unnatural’ porn becomes ticket to jail in Turkey

Apr 26, 2015
Crime
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Turkey’s Constitutional Court handed down a decision April 20 ruling that the production, ownership or distribution of pornographic materials containing “unnatural sexual behavior“ is punishable by one to four years in jail and a fine of some 100,000 Turkish liras ($35,000). These “unnatural” acts were determined to be oral, anal, group and gay and lesbian sexual encounters. The highest court in Turkey thus upheld a lower court decision, rejecting the appeal of an unidentified man from Aydin who had been caught with pornographic images on a flash drive.

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This was not the first time the courts had decided on jail time involving pornographic material. In June 2012, the Court of Appeals had decided that an increased penalty could be applied to a man caught selling pornographic CDs, because they contained “unnatural acts.” While the lower courts had sentenced the seller to a year in prison, the appeals court requested a longer sentence. Amid pundits’ debates about the right to privacy, the decision was seen as a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights concerning the right to respect for private and family life.

In this latest episode, experts were particularly appalled that owning pornography and self-recorded acts of pornography are now punishable by jail time. Lawyers and judges also found themselves debating the frequency of same-sex intercourse and group sex among animals, given the label of “unnatural sexual behavior.” Yet, if the “natural world” sets the standard for common sexual acts, one can find a diverse range of sexual activities.

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