Beşiktaş Municipality Mayor’s Advisor Sedef Çakmak has risen from the substitute position of assembly member to the position of assembly member. Çakmak is the first person to be elected to public office with her open LGBTI identity in Turkey. Çakmak received her mandate on 2 March 2015.
Sedef Çakmak, who ran in the 2014 local elections for membership to the Republican People Party’s Beşiktaş Municipal Assembly with her open lesbian identity and who was elected as an assembly member substitute, has risen to the post of assembly member. Çakmak has been actively working in the Beşiktaş Municipality since the elections and has been an advisır to the mayor on policies and services for LGBTIs.
Sedef Çakmak is a graduate of Galatasaray University with a BA in Sociology. She has been a part of the LGBTI rights movement for the past 10 years and has served as Board President in the Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (SPoD LGBTI) between 2011 and 2013. Çakmak is the first and only LGBTI individual to be elected in Turkey. Çakmak received her mandate today. After the announcement of her membership in the Municipal Assembly, Çakmak explained the post’s importance: “Coming to such a position without having to hide your identity has, without doubt, an empowering effect in a country where people have to hide their identity from their closest for fear of oppression, violence, and exclusion and where LGBTIs face threats, blackmail, mobbing, and termination of employment once their identities are revealed. Policies and services in local administration for LGBTIs within the borders of the Beşiktaş Municipality will serve as an important starting point for developing democracy from the local for all social groups in Turkey.”
LGBTIs are everywhere!
As the general elections approach, SPoD LGBTI has started their “In school, at work, in the parliament: LGBTIs are everywhere!” campaign to encourage other LGBTIs to be active in politics. SPoD LGBTI’s Politics School started on Saturday, 28 February in Istanbul. The Politics School aims to empower LGBTIs in the political arena and make the LGBTI rights movement more visible in the 2015 general elections. The School will continue until 4 March.
In the 2014 local elections, 5 participants of the Politics School ran for different parties’ municipal assemblies with their open gay and trans identities. SPoD’s LGBTI-Friendly Municipality Protocol, to remind local administrations their responsibilities for LGBTI rights, was signed by 40 mayoral candidates from HDP, BDP, CHP, TKP, and DSP. Among the signatories were 5 metropolitan municipality mayoral candidates. Since the elections, SPoD has been monitoring developments in Istanbul, Izmir, Mersin, Adana, and Diyarbakır.
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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).