A number of candidates running for parliament membership from various cities such as Malatya and Edirne have signed the LGBTI Rights Pledge. The human rights organization SPoD LGBTI had formulated the open pledge and asked candidates to publicly sign it. By signing the aforementioned pledge, the candidates promised to defend LGBTI rights in the parliament.
33 MP candidates signed the LGBTI Rights Pledge
The LGBTI Rights Pledge was made public for MP candidates’ signatures prior to the general elections of June 7 by the Social Policy, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (SPoD LGBTI) and has thus far received the signatures of 33 candidates. The pledge was proposed as part of the LGBTIs in the Parliament campaign, whose aim was to increase the visibility of human rights violations suffered by LGBTI individuals and to create a society where no individual faces oppression due to their identities. Women from the HDP [Peoples’ Democratic Party] were the first candidates to sign the pledge as they declared “We are the rainbow.” Recently, new signatures were added to the pledge.
Representatives from SPoD LGBTI were in Ankara on April 28-29 to present the LGBTI Rights Pledge to politicians. Selina Doğan, the CHP’s [Republican People’s Party] first rank candidate from the second district of Istanbul, signed the pledge in addition to Zelal Deniz Demir, the HDP candidate from Ankara, Aylin Nazlıaka, the CHP candidate from Ankara, and Selin Sayek, the CHP first rank candidate from Izmir’s second district.
Commitment from politicians to support LGBTIs
Activists form SPoD LGBTI, Kaos GL, and Pink Life came met with Gülsen Ülker, the HDP candidate from Ankara, Selin Sayek Böke, the CHP Vice President responsible for the Economy and candidate from Izmir Association Professor, and Aykan Erdemir, the CHP’s current MP from Bursa. Aykan Erdemir is among the younger faces of the CHP and has not applied for candidacy this year. The activists informed the politicians about the campaign. Böke said that they will work more extensively for the social rights of LGBTIs in collaboration with SPoD LGBTI following the elections. Aykan Erdemir, who had supported the LGBTI struggle for rights during his term as an MP, relayed his experiences during the past term and stated that he will continue to support the LGBTI struggle.
Gülsen Ülker, who stated that the LGBTI Rights Pledge that SPoD LGBTI has prepared is a very important tool for monitoring changes in this domain, said, “It is not easy to dispose of homophobia, it does not happen all at once; effort is needed. The party cannot act against the election declaration; we are going to follow up on this issue. It will also be our own mission to transform the party.”
Ülker also stated that the pledge will strengthen the LGBTI work within the HDP and used her presence as a feminist in syndicates during the 90s as an example: “The fact that there was a feminist movement on an international level encouraged me. Why would women’s rights only be an issue for women? We want to have a feminist intervention in all aspects of life. The same goes for the LGBTI issue as well. An issue of basic human rights is a concern for everyone. Additionally, in order to have societal transformation against homophobia and transphobia the parliament should participate in Pride events.”
From Malatya to Edirne
The HDP’s candidates from Malatya, Aydın Erdoğan, Latife Ulutaş, Betül Kurnaz Kılınç, Ahmet Akar, Perihan Yücekaya, and Necdet Bali have signed the pledge following efforts by Malatya LGBTI activists.
The Edirne LGBTI Workgroup came together with HDP’s Edirne candidates, Hülya Yer, Hasan Şimşek, and Sedat Zımba, who consequently signed the pledge. LGBTI individuals who supported the party alongside the Edirne LGBTI Workgroup were present at this meeting. The candidates were asked to promise that they will exhibit the required sensibility towards LGBTI rights, which they did. The candidates also expressed that LGBTI rights are to be seen as equal to the rights of all other oppressed groups and that no group should be superior or privileged compared to another group in society. The candidates stated that “the liberation of homosexuals and transsexuals will be the liberation of all the constituents of the community.”
HDP’s Izmir candidates Pınar Aydınlar, Semra Uzunok, Pınar Türk, and Ülkü Yalçınkaya have signed the pledge with the leadership of Black Pink Triangle Association. The other two candidates who have signed the LGBTI Rights Pledge following a visit to Mersin LGBT 7 Colors Association were HDP’s Mersin candidates Çilem Öz and Mahmut Karabulut.
“We were unable to get appointments from the AKP [Justice and Development Party, the ruling party] and the MHP [Nationalist Movement Party]”
The LGBTI in the Parliament Campaign team met with LGBTI organizations in Ankara on Wednesday, April 29 and exchanged ideas with organization members. The event took place at the Pink Life Association [Pembe Hayat Derneği] and members from Kaos GL, LGBTIs in High Schools [Liseli LGBTI], and Middle Eastern Technical University LGBTI [ODTU LGBTI] joined the event. Sezen Yalçın, the Coordinator for Political Participation at SPoD, said that the campaign for LGBTI in the Parliament has been motivated by the very popular motto among the movement: “at school, at work, in the parliament, LGBTIs are everywhere.”
She added: “Our effort is to open a channel through which we can convey the movement’s attainments to policy makers. We want political parties to start acknowledging the LGBTI movement and LGBTI organizations. We aim for this pledge to ensure this acknowledgment. We requested but could not obtain appointments from the AKP [Justice and Development Party] and the MHP [Nationalist Movement Party] to discuss the campaign. They have thus far not given us a positive response.” Yalçın has also announced that they are organizing an event to take place in May in Izmir with the signatories of the pledge.
Below is a list of the candidates who have signed the pledge so far:
- Ahmet Akar HDP
- Aydın Erdoğan HDP
- Aylin Nazlıaka CHP
- Betül Kurnaz Kılınç HDP
- Çilem Öz HDP
- Elif Bulut HDP
- Elif Şahsın Sırlıoğlu HDP
- Enis Berberoğlu CHP
- Filiz Kerestecioğlu HDP
- Gül Yüksel CHP
- Gülsüm Ağaoğlu HDP
- Hasan Şimşek HDP
- Hülya İmak HDP
- Hülya Yer HDP
- İnan Güney CHP
- İncises Alptekin HDP
- Latife Ulutaş HDP
- Mahmut Karabulut HDP
- Melda Onur CHP
- Necdet Bali HDP
- Perihan Yücekaya HDP
- Pınar Aydınlar HDP
- Pınar Türk HDP
- Sedat Zımba HDP
- Selin Sayek Böke CHP
- Selina Doğan CHP
- Semra Uzunok HDP
- Ülkü Yalçınkaya HDP
- Zelal Demir HDP
- Güven Atabay HDP
- Özlem Şen HDP
- Ali Tanrıverdi HDP
- Batuhan Aydagül Independent
Update 26 May 2015: An updated list of LGBTI Rights Pledge signatories can be found here.
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).