Best Practice

LGBTI-Friendly Policies and Practices in Turkey

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,


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.


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:


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:


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:

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 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?”, February 17 2015,

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.


“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, 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.

Free Health Support for Trans Guesthouse from Beşiktaş Municipality

Taking the lead, the Beşiktaş Municipality [in Istanbul] has begun offering free health service support to the Trans Guesthouse. As part of the support, trans women lodging at the guesthouse underwent a medical check-up on 30 January.

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Beşiktaş Belediyesi’nden Trans Misafirhanesi’ne ücretsiz sağlık desteği” (“Free Health Support for Trans Guesthouse from Beşiktaş Municipality”),, 30 January 2015,

Additional support has come from the Beşiktaş Municipality for the Trans Guesthouse, which was opened by Istanbul LGBTI for trans women who are elderly or find themselves in difficult circumstances, and which in recent days has been expanded with the contribution of Trans Angels. [A solidarity group across Turkey] As part of the right to social service and health, the Beşiktaş Municipality began to offer free and anonymous health service to trans women lodging at the guesthouse. The first of the health screenings scheduled to be conducted periodically each month took place today. Municipal health personnel came to the guesthouse and gave the trans women medical check-ups. misafirhanesaglik Sedef Çakmak: Right to health and shelter are two key issues SPoD LGBTI activist Sedef Çakmak, one of the Beşiktaş Municipality mayoral consultants personally overseeing the health screening, made a statement about her work to Noting that as the Beşiktaş Municipality they would continue to support LGBTI people’s fight for equal citizenship, Çakmak continued her remarks as follows: “Health and shelter are one of the two most important issues for the LGBTI movement as well. In spite of the fact that Tarlabaşı is not within the borders of the Beşiktaş Municipality, the LGBTI issue inevitably encompasses all Istanbul. Since we have made progress on the way to becoming an LGBTI-friendly municipality, we will try to deliver health services to our friends who have needs in this area.” (more…)

Besiktas Municipality to implement LGBTI training for staff

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Beşiktaş Belediyesi personeline dönük LGBTİ eğitimi”, (“Besiktas Municipality to implement LGBTI training for staff”),, 5 December 2014,

Besiktas Municipality’s Advisor to the Mayor Sedef Cakmak participated in the European Commission’s seminar on local administrations and LGBTI rights. Cakmak told that the Municipality will cooperate with SPoD LGBTI association to implement trainings on LGBTI rights and discrimination for municipality staff.

The European Commission organized a seminar on gender equality and LGBTI rights in local administrations during 24-26 November 2014. Local administration representatives from Turkey and Eastern Europe shared their experiences. The European Union’s policies and programs on LGBTI rights and non-discrimination were presented to the participants.

Participants from Turkey were the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Bursa Nilufer Municipality and Sakarya Municipality as well as the Besiktas Municipality which stands out with its LGBTI work. On behalf of the Besiktas Municipality, Sedef Cakmak, Advisor to Mayor Murat Hazinedar and a SPoD LGBTI activist, participated in the seminar.


Free health care service from the Şişli Municipality

Source: “Şişli Belediyesi’nden LGBTİ’lere ücretsiz hizmet.” (“Public service from the Şişli Municipality.”) Radikal, 10 October 2014,

Şişli, Istanbul, Municipality initiated free health care services for the LGBTI communities. LGBTI individuals will be able to benefit from health care services for free and, if they would like to do so, using nicknames rather than disclosing their identities.  

For the first time in Turkey, Şişli Municipality in Istanbul began providing health care services for LGBTI communities. According to the announcement by Kaos GL, following meetings between Lambdaistanbul, SPoD, and the Şişli Municipality, which signed the “LGBTI Friendly Municipality Protocol,” the Municipality decided to provide health care services devoted to LGBTI individuals. 


SPoD’s LGBTI-Friendly Municipality Protocol


The Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (SPoD) submitted the LGBTI-Friendly Municipality Protocol to mayoral candidates in the upcoming local elections to remind local administrations of their responsibility to fulfill LGBTI rights.

The protocol text is as follows:

LGBTI-Friendly Municipality Protocol

I, the undersigned candidate for …. Mayor declare my commitment:

  • To take concrete steps to bring forth an egalitarian, libertarian, transparent and participatory local administration mentality and will work to protect and improve LGBTI people’s rights and freedoms,
  • To actualize policies that will allow LGBTI people to equally benefit from access to public services, the right to health care, the right to housing, the right to employment, and the right to transportation,
  • To consider these policies in budget preparations,
  • To cooperate with LGBTI associations and initiatives to ensure that city services are encompassing,
  • To draft regulations of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity within the municipality,
  • To provide training to municipality employees on LGBTI rights and discrimination,
  • To be an LGBTI-friendly mayor.

This protocol text has been drafted by the Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (SPoD) to be presented to mayoral candidates and to remind them of their responsibility to fulfill LGBTI rights.

Mayoral candidates from the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) have signed the LGBTI-Friendly Municipality Protocol.

The list of candidates who have so far signed the protocol is as follows and the candidates who have won in the elections of 30 March 2014 are in bold:

BDP Mersin Akdeniz Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidate Yüksel Mutlu

BDP Mersin Yenişehir Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidates Saniye Ağbay and Hasan Kapıkıran

BDP Mersin Mezitli Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidate Muazzez Araç

BDP Mersin Toroslar Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidate Emine Kocadağ

HDP Adana Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidate Leyla Uyar

HDP Adana Çukurova Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidates Kamuran Çetinkaya and Fatma Şahin

HDP Adana Seyhan Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidates Ayhan Bilgen and Meliha Varışlı

HDP Adana Yüreğir Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidate Beyhan Günyeli

HDP Ankara Çankaya Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidates Mükremin Barut and Elçin Öz

HDP Balıkesir Ayvalık Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidates Piraye Bayman and Cemil Tosunoğlu

HDP Çanakkale Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidates Şeyhmus Aslan and Rahime Kanilga

HDP Eskişehir Metropolitan Municipality Mayoral Candidate Cemal Küçükbaş

HDP Eskişehir Odunpazarı Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidates İzzettin Altun and Yıldız Karasu

HDP Istanbul Avcılar Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidate Zehra Şahin

HDP Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayoral Candidate Sırrı Süreyya Önder

HDP Istanbul Bakırköy Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidates Nivari Bakırcıoğlu and Vahit Genç

HDP Istanbul Beşiktaş Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidates Ahmet Saymadı and Sevda Bayramoğlu

HDP Istanbul Beyoğlu Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidates Seyhan Alma Ürek and Korhan Gümüş

HDP Istanbul Çekmeköy Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidates Azat Altun and Pakize Gürhan

HDP Istanbul Eyüp Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidates Halis Ertaş and Asya Ülker

HDP Istanbul Fatih Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidates Turhan Yıldırım and Menice Çelik

HDP Istanbul Kadıköy Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidates Mukaddes Çelik and İsmet Sadıkoğlu

HDP Istanbul Sancaktepe Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidate Engin Aras and Nahide Kılıç

HDP Istanbul Şişli Municipality Co-Mayoral Candidates Kenan Yenice and Ayşe Berktay

CHP Istanbul Beşiktaş Municipality Mayoral Candidate Murat Hazinedar

CHP Istanbul Kadıköy Municipality Mayoral Candidate Aykurt Nuhoğlu

CHP Istanbul Şişli Municipality Mayoral Candidate Hayri İnönü

TKP Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayoral Candidate Aydemir Güler

TKP Sakarya Municipality Mayoral Candidate Eray Diriarın

DSP Mersin Municipality Mayoral Candidate  Emrah Küçükkapdan

DSP Mersin Yenişehir Municipality Mayoral Candidate  H. Okan Özlü

DSP Mezitli Municipality Mayoral Candidate Nazan Aktolun

SPoD invites all city and district mayoral candidates to sign the LGBTI-Friendly Municipality Protocal.


SPoD /Hayat Çelik