Turkey defends Bosphorus University arrests, saying homosexuality is haram in Islam

Homosexuality was considered forbidden and haram in Islam, Turkey’s justice ministry said in its defence to the Constitutional Court, regarding the student arrests, accused of laying a photo of the Kaaba on the ground in a Boğaziçi University exhibition alongside a rainbow flag.

The ministry argued that the arrests were in accordance with the law, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported on Wednesday.  

Seven students from Turkey’s prestigious Boğaziçi University faced a judge in Istanbul in March, on charges of “openly insulting religious values” through a piece of art depicting the Muslim holy site of the Kaaba.

The artwork showed the mythological figure of Shahmaran, the Master of Snakes, superimposed on an image of the Kaaba, with LGBT flags placed in the corners of the canvas.

The work was an anonymous submission to an exhibition the students held as part of protests against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s appointment of a ruling party loyalist as Boğaziçi’s rector in January.

Selahattin Can Uğuzeş, one of the students detained over the exhibition, filed an individual application to the Constitutional Court on the grounds that his rights to personal liberty and security was violated.

Justice Ministry said Uğuzeş’s allegations are baseless.

“The decision regarding the detention of the applicant has legitimate aims to protect the rights of others and to protect public order,” the ministry said.

In its indictment against the students, the Istanbul chief public prosecutor also noted that the LGBT flags were “symbols of homosexuality and other such sexual orientations that are considered forbidden and haram in Islamic religious literature.”

Levent Pişkin, one of the lawyers for the students, said the indictment included references to Sharia laws, and thus was in violation of the Turkish constitution which states that Turkey is a secular state with no official religion.

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