Best Practice

LGBTI-Friendly Policies and Practices in Turkey

Municipal Equality Index is in Turkey for More LGBTI Friendly Municipalities

SPoD LGBTI transfers Municipal Equality Index Project to Turkey. The index serves as a roadmap for municipal services to include LGBTIs.

510.jpg

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu “Daha Fazla LGBTİ Dostu Belediye İçin Belediye Eşitlik Endeksi Projesi Türkiye’de” (“Municipal Equality Index is in Turkey for More LGBTI Friendly Municipalities”)  Bianet, 27 January 2017 http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/183068-daha-fazla-lgbti-dostu-belediye-icin-belediye-esitlik-endeksi-projesi-turkiye-de

Sosyal Politikalar Cinsiyet Kimliği ve Cinsel Yönelim Çalışmaları Derneği (SPoD) [Trans. Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association] transfers Municipal Equality Index project to Turkey.

SPoD, which builds a bridge between local governments and LGBTI activists, aims to highlight the practices performed by LGBTI friendly municipalities by using this index and encourage LGBTI friendly practices across Turkey in the long run.

Municipal Equality Index, (MEI), which has been in practice in the US for five years, is now spread across 506 cities. The index evaluates the extent to which the municipalities include LGBTIs in the law, policies and practices.  Anti-discrimination laws, the assessment of the municipality as an employer, the level of inclusion of services, the law enforcers and of course the public stances of the mayors regarding equality are points of evaluation. Scores are given based on the criteria defined under these headings. Every year a report card is given according to their level of compliance with these criteria and those which get high scores are rewarded.

In the meeting of the partners of the project the criteria of Municipality Equality Index Project planned to be applied in Turkey were discussed, with the participation of Ankara Çankaya Municipality, Bursa Nilüfer Municipality, Çanakkale Municipality, Eskişehir Metropolitan Municipality, İstanbul Şişli Municipality, İstanbul Kadıköy Municipality, İstanbul Beylikdüzü Municipality, İstanbul Beşiktaş Municipality, İzmir Karabağlar Municipality and Mersin Akdeniz Municipality.

5 Municipalities that Signed LGBTI Friendly Municipality Protocol

Since it was founded, SPoD has been conducting studies for the local governments to include LGBTIs. The association had prepared the LGBTI Friendly Municipality Protocol before the local elections of March 30, 2014 and the protocol was signed by 40 mayor candidates from BDP, CHP, DSP, HDP and TKP. Currently there are five municipalities which have signed the protocol: CHP’s Istanbul Kadıköy, Beşiktaş, Şişli Municipalities and Bursa Nilufer Municipality, DBP’s Mersin Akdeniz Municipality. (Akdeniz Municipality was appointed a trustee on December 18 and its Equality Unit and all its activities were halted.)

“Equality Index is a road map”

SPoD project coordinator Neyir Zerey says that Municipality Equality Index Project can be considered as a continuation of the protocol prepared before the local election and she adds:

“ The number of municipalities which are active on LGBTI related issues is actually more than five. Aside from that, there are municipalities that would like to do something about the issue but has not carried out any activities yet and does not know how to proceed.

“ The evaluation criteria on the index is a road map, an action plan. After that the argument ‘We want to do something but do not know how’ will cease to be.”

What are the potential criteria?

The work on Municipality Equality Criteria continues, currently the criteria are listed under four main headings:

Under the heading “Institutionalization of awareness” there are over ten criteria such as trainings inside and outside the institution, the inclusion of the terms of gender and sexual orientation in the strategic plans, the preparation of the budgets with regards to LGBTI needs, the acceptance of the anti-discrimination rules by the companies that are employed by the municipalities, and establishing Equality Units.

Criteria such as relations with LGBTI community and associations, support for special days and commemorations are listed under “LGBTI Presence in Participatory Municipality”.

Under the heading “LGBTI Awareness in Services”, there are articles on the facilitation of the LGBTIs’ access to services.

The last title is “Public visibility, reputation and esteem”. These are criteria such as sharing messages to increase the recognition and visibility of the LGBTIs and using billboards and others outdoors screens for gender equality.

Rainbow Cities Network

İstanbul Beşiktaş Belediyesi ve İstanbul Şişli Belediyesi. There are currently two municipalities which are members of the network: İstanbul Beşiktaş Municipality and Istanbul Şişli Municipality.

Gizem Aykanat from Equality Unit of Beylikdüzü Municipality:

Equality Unit was recently established in our municipality. Right now we are working more on women’s issues. We directed our attention on these issues in our action plan and as “disadvantaged groups” in our regulations. Surely there is a concern about getting reactions, we have already experienced problems with our partners and our own employees while talking about male-female relationships and had some obstacles.  We listened to Nilüfer Municipality’s experiences in the meeting, and they told us that they went to the schools, and that they have received both positive and negative reactions on  the work they did with LGBTIs. This motivated us. From now on we will focus more on LGBTI issues and try to work with the articles in the index.

Çankaya Municipality Women and Family Services Director Asiye Ülkü Karaalioğlu:

We scheduled activities regarding the LGBTIs in our municipality’s Local Equality Action Plan. But we are a new directorate. This meeting has been very productive on communication and planning what we can do by looking at what is happening at other municipalities. Each criteria is a task on its own. Now we know what we need to do. This has been a road map for us. I think it’s practical, though we might need to spend some time with higher administrations. If we give them  training first, maybe our task will be easier.

Ali Sevilen from Equality Unit of Bursa Nilüfer Municipality:

Equality Units are not very active in Turkey unfortunately.  We are trying our best to be active together with Şişli, Beşiktaş, and Mersin Akdeniz Municipalities.  We believe that working only on gender  equality is futile, and we don’t think it’s possible without the LGBTI work.  The LGBTI movement is actually a milestone for gender  equality, the vegan-vegetarian movements, anti-discrimination and the anti-violence struggle. The Index Project is very valuable. The equality work in municipalities should become a policy so that these activities can continue even when the administration changes.

Boysan’s dream comes true: Equality Unit in Şişli Municipality!

The launch of the Şişli Municipality Social Equality Unit will take place on October 22. Boysan Yakar will be commemorated that night.

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Boysan’ın hayali gerçek oldu: Şişli’de Eşitlik Birimi!”, (“Boysan’s dream comes true: Equality Unit in Şişli Municipality!”), kaosGL.org, 20 October 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=20380

Şişli Municipality has established a Social Equality Unit. The process that began with Boysan Yakar’s work as Advisor to Mayor Hayri İnönü has come to fruition and the unit has begun its work.

The Equality Unit’s establishment will be announced with a launch at 19:30 on Thursday, October 22 at the municipality’s new service building. Boysan Yakar, who lost his life in a traffic accident, will also be remembered that night.

boysan_yakar

“Different politics for a more equal world”

Lambdaistanbul LGBTI activist Elif Avcı who began working at the Social Equality Unit explained the unit’s establishment to KaosGL.org:

After the 2014 local elections, talks began with municipalities which signed the LGBTI-Friendly Municipality Protocol to hold them to their promises. In the strategic planning phase of this process, we spoke with the Şişli Municipality as LGBTI associations and communicated our requests to be included in the strategic planning. The Equality Unit was one of these demands. Then Boysan Yakar, who began working as the mayor’s advisor at the Şişli Municipality, followed up on these demands and after his struggle for a year and half, the equality unit within the municipality has been founded.

This unit will serve to create equalitarian and participatory politics for LGBTI, people with disabilities, senior citizens, minorities, refugees, children, youth, and women. Boysan could not see the establishment of the unit he worked so hard for. So as much as the unit excites me, it also breaks my heart. We are working in a place where we feel Boysan’s loss every day. On the other hand, we don’t have the luxury to fail his hard work. With his inspiration, we are trying to make real a different politics for a more equal world.

Municipalities in Rainbows for Istanbul Pride Week

Municipalities covered their social media accounts in rainbows during LGBTI Pride Week. With the legalization of gay marriage in all states in the US, rainbow shares on social media rose.

Source: Hakan Özkan, “Belediyeler gökkuşağına boyandı,” (“Municipalities in Rainbows,”) KaosGL.org, 29 June 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=19728

For the first time ever, Turkey’s municipalities- all of them from the Republican People’s Party- provided services for the pride parade. Çankaya municipality provided a bus to transport pride parade participants from Ankara to Istanbul. Beşkitaş municipality provided the 60 meter rainbow flag for pride parade. Şişli municipality covered production and printing costs for brochures and posters.

Beşiktaş Municipality Hosted a Pride Week Reception

Beşiktaş Municipality organized a reception for LGBTI pride week on Saturday, 27 June. Mayor Murat Hazinedar supported [and spoke at] the reception, which was organized by Beşiktaş Municipal Assembly member and LGBTI activist Sedef Çakmak.

Rainbows on Social Media

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 20.31.54Nilüfer Municipality [in Bursa], “For the love of rainbow! Long live the equality of colors!”

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 20.32.18

Kadıköy Municipality [in Istanbul] shared a photograph of a rainbow shot from the municipality and wrote “The rainbow will never leave Kadıköy.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 20.32.30

Şişli Municipality [in Istanbul] shared a Şişli rainbow map and tweeted “We always love Şişli with all its colors, we all exist together!” while mentioning Lambdaistanbul. Şişli municipality also hosted the Genetically Modified Tomato Awards.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 20.41.01

On 27 June, Odunpazarı Municipality [in Eskişehir] tweeted “Love is to organize #LoveWins”. A twitter user called emrahdal replied to the tweet by saying “my municipality cannot be the only one to support this kind of Love that is disgusting!!!” Odunpazarı Municipality replied by saying, “Are you homophobic by birth or did it happen later? Get well. We can help with treatment.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 20.32.05

Tepebaşı Municipality [in Eskişehir] tweetedLove will always win”

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 20.32.44

Maltepe Municipality [in Istanbul] tweeted “Let go of homophobia, let’s look at the sky”

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 20.32.51

Edremit Municipality [in Balıkesir] tweeted “nobody can interfere with everybody’s life” referring to CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu’s responses on Ekşi Sözlük prior to the elections.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 20.33.00

Ataşehir Municipality [in Istanbul] tweeted “We carry our logo with the rainbow emphasis throughout the 23rd Pride Week” and mentioned KaosGL and Lambdaistanbul.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 20.33.17

Aydın Metropolitan Municipality [in Western Turkey] tweeted “Each color is beautiful. None of them can ask the other ‘why are you different?’… It shouldn’t ask :)” and emphasized individual freedoms.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 20.43.46

Silivri Municipality [in Istanbul] emphasized the importance of unity by sharing both Ramadan and Pride Parade events and tweeting “Today is a beautiful day 🙂 It’s beautiful to live in Silivri”.

Boston Gay Men’s Chorus: “We are not worried, we are excited”

First their concert at Zorlu Center was cancelled. When the concert was moved to Bosphorus University, another university’s chancellor reacted on social media.

Source: Şafak Timur, “Boston Gay Korosu’nun Türkiye Konseri: “Endişeli değil, coşkuluyuz”, (“Boston Gay Men’s Chorus: “We are not worried, we are excited”,”) BBC Türkçe, 23 June 2015, http://www.bbc.com/turkce/haberler/2015/06/150623_boston_gay_erkekler_korosu

150623105305_boston_gay_men_chorus_624x351_natashamousta

The Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, which has been performing for 33 years in the USA, says they are not worried about the reactions to their first-ever concert in a Muslim majority country. On the contrary, they are excited to be coming to Turkey.

Reuben Reynolds, the music director of the chorus for 18 years, laughs when I ask him “Are you and the chorus members worried?” and says, “We talked a lot about this. We have no worries, we are filled with excitement to be there.”

The chain reaction in the media began when Yeni Akit published a news article [“Pervert Chorus Coming to Turkey!”] last month. Zorlu had not cancelled the concert yet.

After Zorlu Center cancelled the concert, Yeni Akit and Yeni Şafak claimed that the concert was cancelled by Zorlu Holding’s Chairman of the Board Ahmet Nazif Zorlu.

Reynolds says they were informed of the cancellation but were not provided a reason.

(more…)

We ask MP Candidates: Will you defend LGBTI rights in the Parliament?

As the parliamentary elections in Turkey approach, The Istanbul-based LGBTI advocacy group, Social Policies, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Studies Association (SPoD) has called on candidates, political parties, and party leaders to work towards the active inclusion of LGBTIs in decision- and policy-making mechanisms. SPoD has prepared an “LGBTI Rights Pledge,” the full text of which is presented below, and has circulated it to be signed by all parliamentary candidates.

SPoD LGBTI  calls on candidates to follow a political approach that guarantees LGBTI rights and freedoms, stating:

Recently, we have witnessed that the politicians have began assuming responsibility to promote LGBTI rights and freedoms. This is mainly due to the efforts by LGBTI rights movements, working  for LGBTIs to have equal citizenship status and fighting oppressive and discriminatory policies and practices against LGBTI persons in Turkey. We know that the number of politicians who are defending LGBTI rights is insufficient and that political parties ought to display a much more effective stance for LGBTI rights, especially when we take into account the alarmingly high prevalence of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

As SPoD LGBTI, we have invited parliamentary candidates, political parties, and party leaders to work together on policies to support LGBTI rights, in accordance with our campaign, “LGBTI in the Parliament.” We submit the following “LGBTI Rights Pledge” to be signed by all parliamentary candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections in Turkey. Through this pledge, we call on all candidates to present a political approach that guarantees LGBTI rights and freedoms. We declare that we will continue to monitor the performance of the candidates who sign the LGBTI Rights Pledge, if elected to the new parliament.

The Pledge that the candidates are asked to sign is as follows:

(more…)

LGBTI Activist Sedef Çakmak is now a Municipal Assembly Member

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

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.

For news and interview requests:

MEHTAP DOĞAN

Media Partner İletişim Danışmanlığı

Media Director

Hasanpaşa Mahallesi Alibey Sokak Çınar Apt No:2 Kat 2 Daire 9 Kadıköy/İSTANBUL

G: 535 740 84 98 M: mehtapdogan@mpiletisim.com

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).  

Istanbul municipality responded to “GAY” license plate tweet: So what if we are gay?

The Atasehir Municipality in Istanbul responded to a viral tweet about the license plate of a municipality police vehicle with a popular pride slogan. The municipality told kaosGL.org that they are ready to give all sorts of support for LGBT people.

Source: Ömer Akpınar “Istanbul municipality responded to “GAY” license plate tweet: So what if we are gay?” Kaosgl.org, February 17 2015, http://kaosgl.org/page.php?id=18767

The Atasehir Municipality in Istanbul, which belongs to the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), responded to a tweet about the “34 GAY 94” license plate of a municipality police vehicle without falling into the trap of homophobia.

atasehir_zabita

“Not a problem for us”

ErkekTarafi (@ErosEmorotti) tweeted “Most probably the police deliberately handed this plate to the #Atasehir Municipality”, which received the following comment by the municipality:

“Even if so, they should’ve known that it does not constitute any problem for us… So what if we are gay? :)”

“So what if we are gay?”, this popular slogan of the Istanbul Pride, was followed by an inclusive message by the Mayor of Atasehir, Battal Ilgezdi: “As a municipality, we are rightfully proud to provide services to our citizens without any discrimination.”

“We are proud of the LGBT struggle”

The Atasehir Municipality made the following statement to kaosGL.org, showing their enthusiasm to give support to the LGBT struggle:

“We think that LGBT people have made a tremendous impact on democracy, human rights and the understanding of freedom in this country with their rightful struggle and we are proud of them. The LGBT movement is important not only within itself but it is also meaningful and applicable for each and every individual in society. Although we did not have a specific project [for LGBT people] so far, we are ready to give all sorts of support.”

In November, Besiktas and Sisli municipalities in Istanbul stood up against transphobia on the Trans Day of Remembrance, putting up billboards with LGBTI activists holding banners that read “just to spite hate, long live life”. The Besiktas Municipality has also begun offering free healthcare to a trans shelter.