Story By: Feza Uzay, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
This British novel about two gay characters falling in love has been declared “harmful to minors” in Turkey, where it can now only be sold wrapped up so as to hide the cover that shows two boys holding hands.
The Turkish authorities declared Alice Oseman’s literary series ‘Heartstopper’ (‘Kalp Carpintisi’ in Turkish) to be “harmful” for children under the age of 18 earlier this month (September 2021).
The novels may now only be sold in the country wrapped up in paper or in an envelope clearly displaying a label reading “harmful to minors”.
The Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services decided that the novels, which tell the story of two gay characters, may “have a harmful effect on the morale of those under the age of 18”.
The novel series recounts the fictional story of Charlie and Nick, who study at the same school and first become close friends before they fall in love with one another.
The novel’s first edition was released in 2019 and was swiftly followed by a second edition, with a third edition hitting shelves in 2020, and a fourth being released in May this year.
The literary series has been such a hit that Netflix is set to release an eight-episode TV series based on the novels directed by Welsh director Euros Lyn, with filming completed in July.
No release date has yet been set for the Netflix series directed by Lyn, who has previously worked on Doctor Who, Sherlock, Black Mirror and Daredevil, but it is rumoured to be imminent.
The ministry’s decision regarding the novel was published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey on Wednesday, 8th September.
After the decision was made public, photos of the books on sale wrapped up in paper or inside closed envelopes displaying the phrase “harmful to minors” were posted on social media.
The photos received an online backlash, with many Twitter users reacting with humour to the authorities’ decision.
Twitter user ‘Commandate Hannibal’ wrote: “20 years ago Playboy magazine was sold in black nylon bags. Now books are sold in sealed envelopes.”
Twitter user ‘Fikri’ wrote: “It’s too late. I saw the cover of the book, and I’m gay now.”
Twitter user ‘Yao’ wrote: “I think it needs to be mentioned as the ‘book that should not be named’. When I saw the name ‘Heartstopper’, I immediately thought of gays. I was very impressed and suddenly became gay. I turned into something harmful and immoral to the holy Turkish family structure. The name ‘Heartstopper’ should be banned as well.”
The news site Webtekno reported that the online sale of the book was also prohibited in the ruling.