LGBTIs have started a campaign called “In school, at work, in the parliament” leading up to the general elections. The details of the campaign designed for the active participation of LGBTIs in decision- and policy-making processes were shared at a press meeting on Tuesday, 24 February 2015.
Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (SPoD LGBTI) believes LGBTIs will attain equal access to education, employment, housing, and health services when they are active politically. Therefore, SPoD LGBTI has started a campaign called “In school, at work, in the parliament: LGBTIs are everywhere!“ for the upcoming general elections. The details of the campaign designed for the active participation of LGBTIs in decision- and policy-making processes were shared at a press meeting on Tuesday, 24 February 2015.
You don’t have rights if you are not present!
SPoD LGBTI Board Member Sedef Çakmak said they started this campaign to make the human rights violations LGBTIs face more visible and to realize the dream of a Turkey where no one faces pressure for their identities. Çakmak stated that they started off with the thought “you don’t have rights if you are not present!” Çakmak emphasized that LGBTIs will be able to talk more easily about their economic, social, and legal problems in an environment that is cleared of prejudices. Çakmak said, “In Turkey, individuals’ political participation is confined to “voting”. But political participation is all efforts to directly affect the decisions of decision-makers. SPoD LGBTI consciously uses all the tools of political participation such as election monitoring, face to face meetings with decision-makers, and political campaigns to emphasize LGBTI problems. But there is one method that is the most effective and that is the thought that “you don’t have rights if you are not present.” The existence of individuals who join politics without hiding their LGBTI identities leads to a faster decrease in prejudices against LGBTIs. As we have seen in the minutes of the New Constitution drafting process, lawmakers are not purified of prejudices against LGBTIs that exist in society and steps are not being taken to protect the human rights of LGBTIs who face violence, pressure, and exclusion because of these biases. We must actively participate in politics with our LGBTI identities in order to show decision-makers that being LGBTI is not something that needs to be hidden, shunned, treated or eliminated, to pass laws for LGBTIs, and to repair the negative associations in society. Only in this way can we ensure a truly participatory democracy in society, in the parliament, and in political parties.”
In School, At Work, In the Parliament: LGBTIs are Everywhere!
SPoD LGBTI Board Member Erdal Partog stated that mainstream politics have not taken the struggle for LGBTI rights in the last fifteen years seriously and that it has been hampered consciously and willingly by the AKP Government. He emphasized that this is a strategy to marginalize LGBTI rights and their defenders and said, “We have been working directly with politics since 2011. In this general election, we aim to run a campaign independent of political parties and to strengthen LGBTIs in both political representation and political participation. We want to support LGBTI representatives and representatives who defend LGBTI rights at every level of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, to work together with them, and to tell everyone that this is a rights struggle beyond the issues of electing and getting elected. Pushing our struggle in the arena of politics like it is in many other fields will lead to gaining a legal and social rights framework for our demands.”
Partog shared that they started off to make Turkey’s LGBTI movements and rights more visible, to reveal discrimination against LGBTIs, to show that gays are neither wrong nor alone and to find stronger solutions for LGBTI individuals’ problems. Partog said, “Why shouldn’t we use the right to political representation and participation, which are the most important aspects of democracy? Why not have our voices be heard more strongly through the parliament’s podium and through political parties? Through this campaign, we want to make LGBTIs existence more visible in the general elections. To deepen democracy, we aim to ensure and strengthen access to justice for LGBTIs in representation and participation.”
The Third Politics School to Begin
SPoD LGBTI’s Political Representation Coordinator Sezen Yalçın shared that they have been working on rights violations experienced by LGBTIs since 2011. Through political representation and participation, Yalçın said they aim to strengthen the 20 year rights, equality, and freedom movement of gays who are not recognized as equal citizens, who are not included in the Constitution’s article on equality, whose fundamental rights such as right to life, employment, housing, health, and education are ignored, who are targeted and deemed sick and perverse by the current government and media outlets close to the government, and who are victims of hate crimes. Yalçın highlighted SPoD’s Politics School for LGBTIs which started in 2012 and gathers annually with the help of activists, politicians, and academics. Yalçın said, “As SPoD LGBTI, we ran a campaign for LGBTI equality in the 2014 local elections. In this process, five participants of the Politics School ran as candidates for municipal assemblies with their open gay and trans identities. SPoD’s LGBTI-Friendly Municipality Protocol, created to remind local administrations of their responsibilities to LGBTI rights, was signed by 40 mayoral candidates from HDP, BDP, CHP, TKP, and DSP. Among the signatories were five mayoral candidates for metropolitan municipalities. SPoD continued its monitoring work in Istanbul, Izmir, Mersin, Adana, and Diyarbakir after the elections. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex individuals are in school, at work, and everywhere and will continue to be so. We aim to carry our rights struggle to the parliament and to the political agenda through our campaign.”
The third Politics School will begin on Saturday, 28 February 2015 in Istanbul. The Politics School, which aims to strengthen LGBTIs in the political arena and to make LGBTI rights visible in the 2015 general elections, will run until 4 March 2015.
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LGBTI NEWS TURKEY is the official translation source for SPoD LGBTI’s “In school, at work, in the parliament: LGBTIs are everywhere!” campaign, which is endorsed by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).