Turkish Family Ministry insistent on deeming three children's books 'obscene' despite expert's report

An independent panel of experts assigned by the court has given the green light for three children's books that were previously deemed “obscene” by the Family Ministry on the grounds of “encouraging transsexualism.” The Family Ministry however appealed the expert's report, demanding that another report be issued with regards to the books' content.

Duvar English

In 2019, the Turkish government’s board for the protection of minors from obscene publications ruled that three children's books should be sold in a nontransparent package and only sold to people over the age of 18.

The Turkish Family Ministry claimed that the books “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls,” “Declaration of the Rights of Girls” and “Declaration of the Rights of Girls” were “encouraging transsexualism.”

Lawyer Ümit Erdem took the case to the judiciary, saying the decisions taken by such a “non-transparent board” have no legal foundation.

The latest hearing of the case took place on March 8 International Women's Day at the Ankara 12th Administrative Court.

Erdem told the Speak Up Platform (Susma Platformu) that although an expert's report found the three books not having a “detrimental influence” on children, the ministry is insistent on its claim and demands that the court order the preparation of another expert's report.

The Ankara 12th Administrative Court is expected to issue its ruling with regards to the case in a month.

"Although experts avoid meddling in issues, they have prepared a report which exhibits that the board's decision is explicitly illegal. Their references were not to the Republic era, but the primeval era and middle ages. This is an understandable situation. Those who meddle in issues in this period get burned,” Erdem tweeted on March 7.

He also wrote that despite the findings in the expert's report, the Family Ministry still argues that the form of love mentioned in the books “is encouraging homosexuality.”

When Erdem was conducting research before filing the lawsuit, he found out that the Family Ministry made references to the 1927 version of the Law No. 1117 on the Protection of Minors against Harmful Publication and how the World Health Organization (WHO) defined illnesses prior to 1980 in order to deem a publication “obscene.”

“Decisions which contradict the current universal values, the current era's circumstances and scientific reality are duplicated with the ministry's board,” Erdem said.

The book “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” is a collection of stories about rebellious women, including Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, mathematician Ada Lovelace and former first lady Michelle Obama. It was written and published by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo and has been translated into 47 languages to date.

The other two books “Declaration of the Rights of Girls” and “Declaration of the Rights of Boys,” written by Elisabeth Brami and illustrated by Estelle Billon-Spagnol, tell children they can play with whatever toys they like, wear what they like, and aspire to be what appeals to them. They give girls and boys permission to be themselves and encourage them to give this permission to other boys and girls.