Turkey’s Elections

LGBTI Political Participation & Representation

Gender Distribution of Candidates in Party Nominations for the 2015 General Elections in Turkey

No Equality, No Justice!

The practice of the 10% election threshold blocks various social groups from being represented in the Parliament and invalidates the voters’ will. Political parties exacerbate the situation by excluding women.

Source: “Eşitlik Yoksa Adalet de Yoktur” (“No Equality, No Justice!”), Kadın Koalisyonu [Women’s Coalition], 19 May 2015, http://www.kadinkoalisyonu.org/yeni/esitlik-yoksa-adalet-de-yoktur/

The practice of the 10% election threshold blocks various social groups from being represented in the Parliament and invalidates the voters’ will. [In this system, political parties that receive less than 10% of the votes cannot join the parliament. For instance, in 2002, as a result of numerous parties failing to pass the threshold, more than 40% of the electorate (14+ million) ended up not being represented in the parliament. Instituted following the military coup of 1980, the threshold was and still is routinely used against parties that do not follow the traditional state lines such as Kurdish rights, and for a time, Islamists. –Trans.]

Political parties exacerbate the situation by excluding women. Of the 4 parties most likely to pass the threshold, it was only the HDP [Peoples’ Democratic Party] that came close to an equal male-female ratio with 45% women candidates. It was also the HDP that nominated women in all the cities of the nation except 3. [In contrast] The AKP [the ruling party, Justice and Development Party] did not nominate women in 37 cities, CHP [Republican People’s Party] in 41 cities, and MHP [Nationalist Movement Party] in 51 cities. Yet, these are parties that have been in the parliament for years and that have been receiving election funding.

Women are everywhere. Yet women are absent in political party nominee lists! We will give neither our votes nor our affirmation to those parties that do not nominate women! We will vote for those who take steps towards equality, liberty, and justice.

Gender Equality in MP Candidacies

In total, only 26.6% of the candidates are women.

In terms of the percentage of women candidates they nominated for the 2015 General Election, the Communist Party came in 1st with 100%, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) came in second with 45%, and the People’s Liberation Party and Anatolia Party shared the 3rd place with 34% each. Of these political parties, only the HDP has a group in Parliament.

women-candidates-per-political-party.png

[Among the political parties most likely to pass the 10% threshold, only women nominations by the HDP’s exceeded 20%. HDP is currently not the main opposition party in Turkey.]

women-candidates-per-popular-political-party.png

[Candidates’ chances of being elected decrease significantly when they are not nominated from the first rank of their party. These chances decrease even more if their name is not included in the second rank. Only 9% of women candidates are nominated for the first list by the CHP, MHP, HDP, and AKP combined (pie chart on the left). 14% are nominated from the second list (pie chart in the middle). 77% of the women candidates, i.e. 402 candidates from the CHP, MHP, HDP, and AKP are nominated from neither the first nor from the second list (pie chart on the right).]

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The percentage of women candidates did not to surpass 30% in Turkey’s 72 electoral districts!

Political Parties and Independents Number of Women Candidates Percentage of Women Candidates Total Number of Candidates Number of Electoral Districts
The Right Path Party 86 25.07% 343 56
Anatolia Party 189 34.36% 550 85
Rights and Liberties Party 122 25.26% 483 75
Communist Party 550 100.00% 550 85
Community Party 104 18.91% 550 85
Right and Justice Party 29 19.73% 147 43
Center Party 98 20.25% 484 73
Social Negotiation and Development Party 91 25.93% 351 55
People’s Liberation Party 195 35.45% 550 85
Liberal Democrat Party 86 21.03% 409 58
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) 67 12.18% 550 85
People’s Democratic Party (HDP) 249 45.27% 550 85
Peace Party 42 7.64% 550 85
Republican People’s Party (CHP) 107 19.45% 550 85
Justice and Development Party (AKP) 100 18.18% 550 85
Democratic Leftist Party 117 21.27% 550 85
Nation’s [Yurt] Party 67 20.36% 329 56
Democrat Party 76 13.82% 550 85
Nation’s [Vatan] Party 137 24.91% 550 85
Independent Turkey Party 98 17.82% 550 85
Independent Candidates 15 9.09% 165 46
Total 2625 26.62% 9861

On the 2015 General Elections and the Data

The 2015 Parliamentary Election will be conducted in 81 cities, with a total of 85 electoral districts. 20 political parties formally registered 9,696 candidates with the Supreme Committee of Elections, in addition to the 165 registered independent candidates. These candidacies were published in the Supreme Committee of Elections website. In addition to the lack of categorization of candidates by gender in political party websites, the Supreme Committee of Elections itself has no awareness of gender with regards to the nominations. As such, in order to obtain a 99% reliability rate, whenever in doubt, we researched candidates online and attempted to confirm our findings with the limited number of parties that showed the sensibility to share their data with us.

 

Update 08 June 2015: According to Lambdaistanbul, women obtained 98 parliamentary seats out of the 550 in Turkey’s June 07 2015 General Elections. Accordingly, the rate of representation of women in Turkey’s Parliament increased by %3.5 from the 24th Parliament, elected in 2011, to 17.8%. In contrast, women constituted 49.82% of Turkey’s population according to the 2014 results of the Address Based Population Registration System.

 


Translator’s Note: The figures provided in this text have been prepared by LGBTI News Turkey volunteers in the course of the Turkish-English translation of the source text for translation purposes using the raw data provided by the source text. These figures are released under a CC-BY-SA license.

Hate speech against LGBTI by the Milli Irade Platformu

Hate speech against LGBTI by the Milli Irade Platformu, a pro-government platform of civil society organizations: “Our morality is our value. The people does not forgive those who pushes forward homosexual perversion onto the people as if it were a legitimate act. To legitimize the publicization of sin is an assassination against the values of this people. This initiative will fail yet again with The People’s Will.” (Scroll down for a list of organizations allegedly supporting this statement.)

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The Campaign Against Homosexuality in Turkey’s Elections

Only days before Turkey’s upcoming parliamentary elections, unknown gunmen shot at the campaign office of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the early morning hours of June 2 in Eskisehir, a city in northwest Turkey. More than 100 attacks have been carried out against election offices of the HDP, a left-wing and pro-Kurdish party, during this campaign season, according to Dicle News Agency. [1] Though no one was hurt in the Eskisehir attack, the HDP’s openly gay candidate Baris Sulu, who runs his campaign from that office, left the city over safety concerns.

Sulu has been receiving threats since he declared his candidacy for the HDP nomination in February. A seasoned activist, Sulu says he joined the HDP because the party supported rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex (LGBTI) people even at its nascent stage as the Peoples’ Democratic Congress in 2011. Sulu’s candidacy is highly notable in a conservative country where prejudice and harassment against LGBTI people is a fact of daily life. The number of threats rose in April with his official nomination but the dramatic increase came in May when pro-government media outlets started targeting him.

Pro-government Sabah and Star daily newspapers have called Sulu’s campaign “vile propaganda,” criticizing his tweets such as “recognize our sexual orientation” and for wanting “people to react normally to men kissing.” [23] The Turkish daily newspaper Yeni Akit, infamous for its attacks on LGBTI people, published blurred photographs of Sulu and his partner kissing under the title “Immoral prostitution images of the HDP’s perverted candidate revealed!” [4] The article was quickly reposted by other media outlets and social media users, which escalated the online threats.

In Turkey, media attacks often go hand-in-hand with similar statements from elected officials. President Erdogan, who has led the campaign for the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) despite the fact that his position calls for neutrality, lambasted the HDP on May 28 at a meeting in Ankara. “We don’t nominate so-called religious scholars in Diyarbakir [a pre-dominantly Kurdish city in Turkey’s southeast] and homosexuals in Eskisehir,” Erdogan said in reference to what he sees as the HDP’s pandering to opposing sensitivities of different regions of the country. [5]

Following Erdogan’s statements, two parliamentary hopefuls from the AKP, in an effort to garner votes from religiously conservative Kurds, have criticized the HDP for nominating an openly gay candidate, arguing that homosexuality cannot be reconciled with Islam.

At a campaign stop in the southeastern province of Siirt, AKP candidate Yasin Aktay criticized the HDP’s nominations and said, “You are the child of a Muslim. The Kurds are Muslim and if there are, excuse me, 3 homosexuals on the list of Muslims who defend man’s marriage to man, then I will ask you ‘who are you?’” Aktay concluded that “it is impossible for Muslim society to affirm a man’s marriage to a man.” [6]

Former Interior Minister and AKP candidate Efkan Ala expressed fear that the HDP would give gays and lesbians “all sorts of rights” such as the recognition of same-sex marriages. Speaking to his “Kurdish brothers” on a Turkish news channel, Ala said, “We are against such things that our morality and our traditions reject.” He warned his listeners “the tribe of Lot was destroyed because of this; this is the destruction of humanity,” referring to the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah, a trope often used against LGBT communities in the Muslim world. [7]

Sulu says that after each public speech, he has received threats on Twitter from AK trolls, supporters of the AKP who launch large-scale smear campaigns on social media. They called him a pervert “who will burn in hell.” He blocks at least 10 accounts every day, but “systematic swearing, insults, and threats continue to come to all of my social media accounts,” Sulu said.

Sulu believes that Erdogan’s statement in 2002 that “homosexuals must also be given legal protection for their rights and freedoms” was only to appear sympathetic to the EU. [8] Now at the brink of losing a significant number of parliamentary seats to the HDP, “all their hidden fears, all the times they were being disingenuous, are coming out to the surface,” in the shape of homophobia. President Erdogan confirmed this at a June 3 rally in the eastern province of Bingol, when he said, “The Armenian lobby, homosexuals and those who believe in ‘Alevism without Ali’ – all these representatives of sedition are [the HDP’s] benefactors.” [9]

Sulu is last on the list of 6 HDP candidates in Eskisehir and, thus, unlikely to be elected into office. However, the nomination of an openly gay man for parliament is highly notable in Turkey, where 87 percent of respondents to Bahcesehir University’s 2012 survey, “Turkish Values Atlas,” said they do not want gay neighbors. [10] Since 2010, 47 individuals have been killed due to their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. [11] In May alone there were 5 assaults on transgender individuals in Istanbul. [12]

The HDP’s nomination of an openly gay candidate has created campaign fodder for the AKP. While singling out Sulu could prove dangerous for the candidate, he remains hopeful. “If we as LGBTIs are taken so seriously, then we must be succeeding in our twenty year rights struggle,” Sulu said.

Zeynep Bilginsoy is a freelance journalist based in Istanbul. She’s also the founder and project manager of LGBTI News Turkey, an English translation resource on LGBTI issues in Turkey.

57 Candidates for Parliament Promise to Protect LGBTI Rights

Edit 09 June 2015: See the following link for an updated list of candidates who signed the LGBTI Rights Pledge, along with the 21 who entered Turkey’s 25th parliament.

SPoD Logo

57 candidates for parliament signed SPoD LGBTI’s LGBTI Rights Pledge ahead of the elections and promised to protect LGBT rights. 

57 candidates for parliament from Malatya, Edirne, Izmir, Ankara, and Istanbul have signed the Social Policies, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Studies Association’s (SPoD) LGBTI Rights Pledge ahead of the June 7 parliamentary elections. Among the signatories are Aylin Nazlıaka, Enis Berberoğlu, Sezgin Tanrıkulu, Filiz Kerestecioğlu, Melda Onur, Pınar Aydınlar, Şafak Pavey, and Musa Çam who say that they LGBTIs are not alone in their struggle.

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Turkey’s Former Minister of Interior: ‘Gay marriage is the destruction of humanity’

The former Minister of Interior and current candidate for parliament running with the AKP [Turkey’s ruling party] from Erzurum, opposed gay marriage on TGRT TV News program and said that “the tribe of Lot” was destroyed because of this.

Source: “Efkan Ala da hedef gösterme peşinde: Eşcinsel evlilik insanlığın helakıdır” (“Efkan Ala is also intent on pointing people out as targets: ‘Gay marriage is the destruction of humanity’”), Birgün, 2 June 2015, http://www.birgun.net/haber-detay/efkan-ala-da-hedef-gosterme-pesinde-escinsel-evlilik-insanligin-helakidir-82104.html

The former Minister of Interior and current candidate for parliament running with the AKP [Turkey’s ruling party] from Erzurum, opposed gay marriage on TGRT TV News program and said that “the tribe of Lot” was destroyed because of this.

Pointing Barış Sulu, the HDP’s Eskişehir LGBTI MP candidate, as a target[1], he said:

“For God’s sake, look at these candidates that the HDP put forth. I can’t even bring myself to say it. They have put forth candidates that our citizen [sic] cannot accept.”

Efkan Ala continued:

“Our Kurdish brothers are religious people. For God’s sake, look at these candidates that the HDP put forth. I can’t even bring myself to say it. They have put forth candidates that our citizen [sic] cannot accept. I mean let me say this, they have put forth a transvestite candidate. They put forth homosexuals as candidates. In its election declaration, the HDP says that these [sic] will be afforded all sorts of rights, of the right of a man to marry and be with a man and of the right of a woman to marry and be with a woman. We are saying that we are against such things on topics that our morality our tradition rejects. What is this, a man marrying a man, a woman marrying a woman. The tribe of Lot was destroyed because of this[1]. That is, this is the destruction of humanity.”


[1] Turkey has a history of political violence, hate crimes, and political assassinations that followed a governmental authority figure and/or mainstream media singling out a person or a group out as rightfully injurable with impunity. -Trans.

Istanbul LGBTT Activist: “Assailants say ‘you can murder fags, there is no penalty for that’”

7 trans women were assaulted in Istanbul in the last month. Kıvılcım Arat of Istanbul LGBTI said: “It is the government, which avoids producing legislation [against hate crimes] and which issues press statements that point people out as targets, who is responsible for the increase in assaults.”

Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “Saldırganlar ‘İbne Öldürmenin Cezası Yok’ Diyor” (“Assailants say ‘you can murder fags, there is no penalty for that’”), Bianet, 1 June 2015, http://www.bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/164977-saldirganlar-ibne-oldurmenin-cezasi-yok-diyor

7 trans women were assaulted in Istanbul in the last month [May 2015].

Some assaults occurred out of nowhere while women were walking on the street, some occurred in women’s homes. Other trans women who heard that trans women have been assaulted rushed to the hospitals and waited outside the ER in solidarity, even when they did not know the victim.

Yet, the attacks continue and very few of the women apply to rights organizations regarding what they experienced and initiate legal procedures.

Istanbul LGBTI [sic- correct name Istanbul LGBTT], one of the organizations working for trans rights, reported that only three trans women applied [for support] following the attacks. Two of them did not continue the necessary legal procedures afterwards; one is waiting for her recovery.

Why is it that these women, who struggle for their lives every day, do not engage in a legal struggle? Kıvılcım Arat, member of the board of directors of Istanbul LGBTI [sic], responded to this question: “Because they do not trust the judiciary.”

“They are reluctant [to pursue cases] because they do not trust the judiciary. Activists need to intervene at that stage. Unfortunately, that is not always possible.”

Arat tied the high number of assaults during the month to the statements by government authorities. While they have avoided issuing statements regarding LGBTIs up until now, government authorities have begun bringing the issue to the forefront as the elections are approaching. Arat reminds us of the statements by President Erdoğan, “We do not put forth homosexual candidates,” and by Prime Minister Davutoğlu, “Homosexuals caused the destruction of the tribe of Lot.”

“Ever since the HDP [which has an LGBTI candidate and actively campaigns for LGBTI rights -Trans.] started its election campaign, the statements by government authorities about LGBTIs have been encouraging people to commit hate crimes. Recently, following the statement by the President, two trans women were assaulted.”

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AKP’s Yasin Aktay Criticizes the HDP for Gay Candidates

Dr. Yasin Aktay [of Turkey’s ruling party AKP] went after the HDP using its gay candidates and said “it is impossible for Muslim society to affirm man’s marriage to man.”

Source: Suat Bilim, “Prof. Dr. Aktay, Pervari de HDP’ye Yüklendi” (“Dr. Aktay goes after the HDP at Pervari”), Onedio, 30 May 2015, http://onedio.com/haber/prof-dr-aktay-pervari-de-hdp-ye-yuklendi-517675

Yasin Aktay[1], the AKP’s Deputy Chairman and MP candidate for Siirt, spoke to Pervarians as part of his election campaign and, referring to the HDP’s gay candidates, said “it is impossible for Muslim society to affirm man’s marriage to man.”

Aktay, who told that his party’s candidate list also includes candidates of Armenian, Alevi, and many other backgrounds and that the AKP is the party for all sects living in this country, said:

“But if talk about we the Kurds and fill your [candidate] list with elements [sic] that Kurds cannot accept, they will ask you who are you [sic]. Above all you are a child of the Muslim and Kurds are Muslim and if Muslims has three homosexual people, people who defend men’s marriage with men in their list, I will ask you who are you [sic]. You are not one of us we do not recognize man’s marriage with man. And I do not know a Kurd who will accept something like this. They were saying that the Turkish State assimilated Kurds but there exists no bigger assimilation than this. You have transformed the Kurd’s [sic] belief and language into something else and now will you change the Kurd’s [sic] sexuality too? Firstly the Kurdish society is a Muslim society. It is impossible for the Muslim society to affirm man’s marriage to man.”

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[1] Yasin Aktay is AKP’s Foreign Affairs Deputy Chairman. According to his profile at AKP’s website, he received his PhD from METU’s Department of Sociology in 1997 and is currently employed at Yıldırım Beyazıt University’s Department of Sociology. He was previously seen on a leaked video clip from May 2015, claiming that Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency was carrying weapons to the Free Syrian Army (FSA). -Trans