CHP

Minute-by-minute: What happened at the Pride Parade?

Photo: Şener Yılmaz Aslan

Photo: Şener Yılmaz Aslan via Kaos GL

The police attacked the Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade with tear gas, pressurized water, and plastic bullets. Protesters were taken into custody and journalists assaulted. Parliamentarians from HDP [People’s Democratic Party]  and CHP [Republican People’s Party] resisted police violence hand in hand. Despite the police attacks that continued throughout the day, the rainbow flag was waved in all the streets of Beyoğlu.

Source: Kaos GL, “Onur Yürüyüşü’nde saat saat ne oldu?” (“Minute-by-minute: What happened at the Pride Parade?”), 29 June 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=19725

The governorate attempted to ban the Parade using Ramadan as an excuse. Assaults continued throughout the day on İstiklal Avenue and in Cihangir and Şişli. Three different crowds marched to Tunnel. During the press statement there, the crowds were assaulted [by police -Trans.]. Thousands of people resisted as they tried to gather together despite tear gas and plastic bullet attacks by the police.

Here is a minute-by-minute timeline of the attacks:

14.00 A press statement was read in front of the Galatasaray High School by mental health workers. At first, the police did not allow the reading of the press release.
15.00 The police attempted to take into custody [Bianet editor] Çiçek Tahaoğlu and Kaos GL editor Yıldız Tar when they tried to record the intervention of the Genç-Sen [Students’ Union] stand by the police. Our [Kaos GL] editor Tar was assaulted and removed from the stand area when they reminded the police that journalists’ right to report cannot be interfered with. Bianet editor Tahaoğu who reacted to the event was taken into custody. The editors were released upon the intervention of lawyers.
16.30 Participants encountered the first police attacks at the Pride Parade on İstiklal Avenue. Participants were scattered into side streets.
16.44 Following the police assault, LGBTIs in the side streets gathered again on İstiklal Avenue as they chanted slogans.
16.57 The crowd attempted to pass through the police barricades on side street entrances and enter İstiklal Avenue. Thousands succeeded in gathering together at the Taksim Square entrance of İstiklal Avenue.
16.46 The police assaulted the crowd that was gathered at Mis Street once again. Sporadic confrontations continued.
17.00 The police attacked and battered the journalists who were trying to record images. One person was reported to have been taken into custody.
17.01 The police attacked the crowd who were trying to enter İstiklal Avenue from the Taksim Square entrance. The crowd retreated towards Sıraselviler Street. The police continued their tear gas and pressurized water attacks.
17.03 The police attacked LGBTIs who were waiting in front of the Galatasaray High School with tear gas and pressurized water. The crowd retreated towards Tunnel. Police violence continued.
17.05 The crowd which had moved to Tarlabaşı gathered again. Thousands marched towards Taksim Square.
17.08 HDP’s Istanbul MP Filiz Kerestecioğu participated in the Pride Parade as well. The police assaulted Kerestecioğlu.
17.20 HDP MPs Filiz Kerestecioğlu, Beyza Üstün and Sezai Temelli and CHP MP Mahmut Tanal held hands in front of the police barricade and demanded that attacks be stopped. The police attacked the MPs and the crowd in the vicinity with plastic bullets.
17.22 Following the police attack at Hasnun Galip Street, one person was wounded. Thousands filled the streets leading to İstiklal Avenue. The crowd roamed the side streets trying to reach the Avenue, chanting slogans.
17.39 The police attacked once more the crowd who were marching towards and gathering in Taksim Square. The crowd retreated towards Talimhane.
17.48 The police blocked the members of the famous Boston Gay Men’s Chorus from entering İstiklal Avenue.
17.52 The police attacked once again the crowd who were gathering at Sıraselviler Street. The crowd responded by barricading themselves and throwing plastic soda bottles. Some of the crowd at Sıraselviler marched towards Cihangir.
18.05 MPs from HDP and CHP read a press statement at Taksim Square under a rainbow flag with regards to the police attack against the Pride Parade.
18.12 HDP Istanbul MP Filiz Kerestecioğlu talked with Istanbul Governor Vasip Şahin on the phone. Governor Şahin declared: “We won’t allow them to march because of Ramadan.”
18.26 CHP and HDP MPs read a statement in Taksim Square. HDP’s Musa Piroğlu said: “This nation hosts many people who have been othered. [This sentence has a dual meaning: “This nation has othered many people.” -Trans.] This assault was against all of us. The Istanbul Police Force is almost saying ‘We are ISIL’.” The crowd began their march towards İstiklal Avenue following the statement. In tandem with the march, the crowds nearby began gathering on İstiklal Street.
18.35 The crowd, which had moved towards Harbiye following the police attack in Taksim Square gathered together once again. Hundreds of people closed the road to traffic and began marching towards Şişli. The crowd at İstiklal Avenue gathered together as well. Thousands chanted “Don’t remain silent, scream LGBTs exist.” Ayşe Erdem, HDP’s co-chair, supported the LGBTIs as well.
18.39 The crowd who began marching along with HDP MPs moved to Tünel [Activist correction- MPs marched until Galatasaray]. Here, it was reported that Sendika.Org journalist Murat Karadeniz was wounded by police with a plastic bullet on his eyebrow. Karadeniz was taken to the hospital.
18.46 Police began once more their attack on the crowd at Mis Street with tear gas.
19.05 The police stopped the crowd who had blocked traffic and was marching towards Şişli. TOMAs [militarized police vehicles -Trans.] announced “Disperse”. The crowd responded by chanting.
19.10 Many were affected by the intense tear gas deployed during the attack at Galatasaray.
19.29 The police attacked the crowd once again while a press statement was being read.
19.40 The 23rd LGBTI Pride Week Parade participants did not disperse despite police assaults. The crowd, who were resisting for hours, marched towards the Tunnel. The protest ended here with a press statement stating: “We are everywhere, get used to it, we are not leaving.”
19.47 The police attacked the crowd which had already dispersed with batons, plastic bullets, and pressurized water.
22.00 The Pride Week celebration party at Tünel was attacked [by police].
23.00 [Police] attacked the street where the closing party [held in a privately owned bar -Trans.] was taking place. The participants took refuge in the terrace.

We have utilized the information passed on by our correspondents and by ETHA, and sendika.org.

Yeni Akit: Support for Homos by the CHP and the HDP

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) and People’s Democratic Party (HDP) had their homo love rekindled. The CHP and the HDP, which had previously listed homosexual candidates for the June 7th general elections, now are also signatories to a campaign for homosexuals’ ugly demands.

Source: Hüseyin Kulaoğlu, “CHP ve HDP’den homo’lara destek” (“Support for Homos by the CHP and the HDP”), Yeni Akit, 27 May 2015, http://goo.gl/5eeI6f

chp-ve-hdpden-homolara-destek-h1432665300

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) and People’s Democratic Party (HDP) had their homo love rekindled. The CHP and the HDP, which had previously listed homosexual candidates for the June 7th general elections, now are also signatories to a campaign for homosexuals’ ugly demands. 39 [sic] MP candidates, with prominent names such as Enis Berberoğlu, Şafak Pavey, and Elif Bulut, have become signatories to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) Rights Pledge that was organized by the Social Policies, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Studies Association (SPoD).

Şafak Pavey, the CHP’s MP candidate for Istanbul, reported that she will continue defending LGBTI rights as she did before and that she will carry the responsibilities brought on by this signature with honor.[1]

On the other hand, Musa Çam, the CHP’s Izmir 1st Region MP candidate, claimed that LGBTI rights are the most basic human rights and said “We will do everything we can for LGBTIs.”

HDP Candidates: Homosexuals are not alone

Sevda Özer and Ali Haydar Konca, MP candidates for Kocaeli from the HDP, reported in their statement following their signature of the pledge that LGBTI individuals are not alone in this struggle and that anyone who finds guidance in liberties should support this struggle.[1]

That pledge has the following signatories:

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LGBTIs are not alone in this struggle

SPoD Logo

The LGBTI Rights Pledge, which the Social Policies, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Studies Association (SPoD) has opened for signatures by candidates running for parliament membership on the June 7 general elections, has received 40 signatures. Candidates such as Şafak Pavey, Musa Çam, and Deva Özenen declared that LGBTIs are not alone in this struggle.

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33 MP candidates signed the LGBTI Rights Pledge

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.

chp+imzalar+1

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.

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After the HDP, CHP candidates also sign the LGBTI Rights Pledge

Istanbul 2nd district candidates Melda Onur, Enis Berberoğlu, İnan Güney, and Gül Yüksel visited SPoD LGBTI before the June 7 general elections. The Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidates signed the LGBTI Rights Pledge after the women candidates of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), who declared “We are the Rainbow.”

SPoD LGBTI representatives, who have started the “LGBTI in the Parliament” campaign for the active inclusion of LGBTIs in decision- and policy-making processes and who drafted the LGBTI Rights Pledge, asked candidates for parliament to advocate for LGBTI rights in the Parliament.

Melda Onur emphasized the importance of the presence of LGBTIs in the Parliament with their open identities and said, “We have worked to bring LGBTI issues to the Parliament. We will continue to do so after the elections.” Enis Berberoğlu stated that they will work to get more CHP candidates to sign the Pledge and said, “The CHP’s 2015 Election Manifesto declared that it will work against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. As you know the manifesto includes the sentence that we will work against all discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity through legislation and sanctions. This is a fundamental human rights issue.”

In the coming days, candidates from other cities and parties are expected to sign the LGBTI Rights Pledge.

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Turkish popular opposition promises to fight anti-LGBT discrimination

The Turkish main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) announced its manifesto for the June 7 elections, promising to fight discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Kaos GL, “Turkish main opposition promises to fight anti-LGBT discrimination”, 20 April 2015, http://kaosgl.org/page.php?id=19225

The CHP announced yesterday its election manifesto titled “a Turkey to live in” [PDF, in Turkish] where it stated:

“We will decisively fight all kinds of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity via legislations and law enforcement.”

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Opposition CHP Leader Kılıçdaroğlu Responds to Questions on LGBTI Equality

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader, sent supportive messages with regards to marriage equality in Ekşi Sözlük [a Turkish online collaborative ‘wikitionary,’ similar to an informal Wikipedia] yesterday night. Kılıçdaroğlu had claimed that “society is not yet ready for a homosexual leader” two years earlier [in December 2013], addressing the same community.

Source: Ömer Akpınar, “Kılıçdaroğlu’ndan eşcinsel evlilik yorumu: Herkesin hayatına kimse karışamaz”, (“Kilicdaroglu comments on homosexual marriage: Nobody can interfere with everybody’s life”), KaosGL.org, 13 April 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=19175

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu responded to questions on the Ekşi Sözlük website, under a[n AMA] thread that was posted yesterday night, titled “Hello I am CHP general president Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.”

The following question was directed to Kılıçdaroğlu “What do you promise to LGBTI individuals?”

Upon Kılıçdaroğlu’s failure to display a consistent attitude regarding LGBTI equality, the following question was asked:

“During your election campaign, will you be able to grab the microphone and say ‘I promise an egalitarian citizenship and constitutional protections for LGBTI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex] individuals’? What are your personal thoughts on LGBTI marriage equality?”

CHP leader, referring to a viral video[1], replied “nobody can interfere with everybody’s life :)”

“CHP leader should have given a serious answer”

Even though Kılıçdaroğlu’s response was applauded generally by the website’s contributors, a writer by the screenname jish cha directed the following criticism towards Kılıçdaroğlu:

“This Q&A session might be funny for most of us, but for some people living in this country this is a serious question/problem. Joking is okay and fun but I think that he should have given a serious answer.”

CHP members are working for LGBTI equality

Despite Kılıçdaroğlu’s failure in proactively discussing LGBTI rights, CHP members have proposed numerous bills and parliamentary questions on the issue.

In the past week, CHP has proposed a Social Integration and Social Inclusion Bill of Law which also includes LGBTIs. The party had also proposed a Labour Law for LGBTI individuals in February.

Earlier in January, Faruk Çelik, Minister of Labour and Social Security, in response to CHP member Mahmut Tanal’s parliamentary question, had expressed on behalf of the ministry that they did not support LGBTI individuals’ participation in the workforce.

Two years earlier Kılıçdaroğlu had said “society is not ready”

Kılıçdaroğlu had answered the question “Would you nominate a homosexual candidate in the local elections?” by saying “society is not yet ready for a homosexual mayor” in a meeting held in December 2013 with 20 Ekşi Sözlük writers.

Despite this prior response, Kılıçdaroğlu had come together with representatives from the Platform for LGBT Political Representation and Participation. In the 2014 local elections, Sedef Çakmak and Çelik Özdemir from Istanbul, and Öykü Evren Özen from Bursa had been nominated to run for membership for the respective local parliaments, however they have not won the elections. Sedef Çakmak has later been elected in March 2015 as member of the local parliament of Beşiktaş, becoming the first openly lesbian parliament member of the Municipality of Beşiktaş and of any local parliament in Turkey at large.

Trans activist Niler Albayrak, who was a candidate for nomination in preparation for the 2015 general elections, subsequently failed to be nominated by CHP.

The main opposition party does not have any openly gay candidates running for the 2015 general elections.


[1] The viral video referred to by Kılıçdaroğlu is an excerpt from a street interview on the abolition of the headscarf ban, whereby a young man supports the abolition of the ban claiming that nobody can interfere with everybody’s life. The video can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHjyEKkcySs

THE CANDIDATES ARE SELECTED, NOW IT’S TIME FOR SELECTING THE COURSE OF POLITICS!

As general elections approach,  SPoD LGBTI representatives who have started the “LGBTI in Parliament” campaign for the active participation of LGBTIs in decision and policy making, have published a declaration inviting MP candidates, political parties and party leaders  to work together. Knocking on the doors of political parties one by one and demanding support for the participation of LGBTIs in politics, SPoD LGBTI representatives have announced that they will be following the candidate selection processes closely.

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From Lynching and Attacks to the Parliament: LGBTI candidates for nomination

LGBTI activists from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) spoke to KaosGL.org and explained why they became candidates for nomination. 
 
Source: Yildiz Tar, “Linç ve saldırılardan Meclis’e: LGBTİ aday adayları” (“From Lynching and Attacks to the Parliament: LGBTI candidates for nomination”), Kaos GL, 4 March 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18882
 
As general elections approach, candidates for nominations from various political parties are making their declarations. LGBTI activists from the CHP and HDP have announced their candidacies. 
 
Niler Albayrak and Barış Sulu, two candidates for nomination, came together at “the Politics School” organized by SPoD (Social Policy, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association). We held the microphone to Albayrak, who is a candidate from the CHP, Istanbul, Third District, and Sulu from the HDP, Eskişehir. We asked them what they would like to do if they are elected to the Parliament and why they became candidates for nomination.
Barış Sulu and Niler Albayrak

Barış Sulu and Niler Albayrak

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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).  

Trans pre-candidate for nomination from the CHP: I am in this race to get our rights once and for all

Trans activist Niler Albayrak submitted her pre-candidacy for the CHP for the 2015 general elections. During our interview, Albayrak said: “I became a member of the Human Rights Association[1] for Istanbul in 1987. My struggle started back in those days. I really wanted to fight for the oppressed, the othered, and especially LGBTIs.”

Source: Ömer Akpınar, “CHP’den trans aday adayı: Haklarımızı sonuna kadar almak için bu yarıştayım” (“Trans pre-candidate for nomination from the CHP: I am in this race to get our rights once and for all”), Kaos GL, 24 February 2015, http://www.kaosgl.com/sayfa.php?id=18826

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Albayrak became a pre-candidate for nomination with the Republican People’s Party (CHP) from Istanbul 3. District for the 2015 general elections. She explains her reasons for nomination as: “I am especially familiar with the fact that trans sex workers are subjected to discrimination immensely. Hence I decided that the best place to fight against this was the parliament.”

“We established a great communication with the CHP Secretary General”

Though Albayrak was a candidate for the HDP Avcılar Municipality Assembly Candidate from March 30, 2014 [local elections], she was not elected because the party did not pass the 10 percent election threshold. Albayrak, who decided to try her luck with the CHP, recounted the party’s approach towards her and her meeting with Gürsel Tekin, the CHP’s Secretary General:

“We established a great communication during our meeting with Gürsel Tekin. Our talks progressed well. CHP parliamentarians such as Veli Ağbaba, Gürsel Tekin, Binnaz Toprak, Aylin Nazlıaka, and others are now declaring that LGBTIs should be represented in the parliament. But of course this is a personal thing. The CHP’s perspective in the 25th term seems to have improved in comparison to the previous terms. That is the impression I get.”

“Just because a parliamentarian is trans does not mean they will defend only trans rights!”

However, there are negative comments regarding her nomination:

“Reader feedback does include commentary against trans or gay parliament members. However, I think they have not yet learned what it means to be human. That is because they cannot understand that a trans parliamentarian will not focus solely on trans rights, or that a woman parliamentarian will not focus solely on women’s rights, or that a heterosexual parliamentarian will not focus solely on heterosexual rights.”

“I am not the first; I am the third trans candidate for nomination”

Albayrak, who started visiting LGBTI organizations and came by Kaos GL, said “We have to go to the associations, ask for help, and become members. Associations should always be in our lives, since they are official institutions.” Albayrak also corrected recent reports that she was the first trans candidate

“Years ago, Demet Demir became one, then Öykü Özen. I am the third candidate for nomination.”

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“LGBTI candidates should be nominated for a suitable line-up to enter parliament”

Albayrak believes that she has a good chance of winning due to the increased visibility of LGBTIs and especially trans women following the March 30 [2014] local elections. And, of course, she underlines party support:

“LGBTI candidates should be nominated [by their party] for a suitable line-up that can enter parliament.”

“‘What was once a dream is now a reality’ means hatred for LGBTIs”

Albayrak criticized the AKP [Turkey’s ruling party], reminding us of President Erdoğan’s statement that “homosexuals too should be provided with legal security within the framework of their rights and freedoms”[2]:

“AKP’s slogan of ‘what was once a dream is now a reality’ became discrimination, hatred, violence, and suicides for LGBTIs.”

“Hopefully we will succeed this time”

Albayrak is waiting for everyone’s support to have an open trans parliamentarian in the parliament:

“LGBTIs are an extremely oppressed and othered group in the Republic of Turkey. I hope we will succeed this time. I anticipate that the associations, all our colleagues, and heterosexual friends too will support us a lot. We will wait and see.”


[1] For more information, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Rights_Association_%28Turkey%29 or http://en.ihd.org.tr/.

[2] In 2002, during a TV interview with Abbas Güçlü, Erdoğan stated: “Homosexuals too should be provided with legal security within the framework of their rights and freedoms. We do not think that some of the treatment they are subjected to on some TV channels is humane.” In 2013, Kaos GL initiated a campaign on social media to remind Erdoğan of his own statements. Source: Kaos GL, “17 Mayıs’ta Başbakan Erdoğan’a LGBT’leri Hatırlat!” (“On May 17, remind Prime Minister Erdoğan of LGBTIs”), 16 May 2013, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=14179 (Turkish)

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.

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“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.

No one can kick us out of the municipality at this point

Sedef Çakmak, advisor to the mayor of Beşiktaş, and Boysan Yakar, advisor to the mayor of Şişli, are the first openly gay people to advance to these positions. Yakar made news when he was physically assaulted at the municipal building: “No one can kick us, LGBTI individuals, out of the municipality at this point.”

Source: Aydil Durgun, “Bu saatten sonra kimse bizi belediyeden atamaz” (“No one can kick us out of the municipality at this point”). Milliyet.com.tr, 17 January 2015, http://www.milliyet.com.tr/-bu-saatten-sonra-kimse-bizi/pazar/haberdetay/18.01.2015/2000113/default.htm

Sedef Çakmak and Boysan Yakar have been involved in the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex) struggle for years. I crossed paths with them for the first time before the Pride March in 2013. In the same year, I met with Boysan again; this time through the LGBTI Political Representation and Participation Platform that they launched before the local elections. In the elections, they had already started seeing the benefits of the platform. Boysan was a candidate for nomination as a city councilor for the district of Şişli, and Sedef, for Beşiktaş. Boysan made it to the reserve list and Sedef seemed to have made it all the way to the council, but it fell through, and she currently remains as the first reserve candidate. Throughout this lengthy process, Hayri İnönü, the mayor of Şişli, and Murat Hazinedar, the mayor of Beşiktaş, must have been so pleased with their work that they appointed them as their advisors.

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Boysan and Sedef now hold the highest public office held by openly gay individuals in Turkey. This is a big achievement in a country like Turkey, and as they emphasize strongly, it is the result of a long fight for which they made big sacrifices.

I met with Boysan and Sedef to discuss what they have been doing since they assumed office. Boysan also talked for the first time about the physical assault he experienced at the municipal building.

It is clear why you would like to be in the political arena. But why did municipal governments and parties want to reach out to the LGBTI movement? Why now and not before?

Sedef Çakmak: Honestly, I believe that it has to do with our determination. We had been thinking genuinely that our party had to adopt LGBTI politics. To speak about CHP in particular, there have been a number of MPs in the recent past who advocated for LGBTI rights. They have paved the way for us. The party was able to think positively about LGBTI candidates thanks to the LGBTI discussions they introduced into the party’s agenda.

Boysan Yakar: There is something that both of us experienced. After our membership to the party went through, they told us about the displeasure of not having had dealt with this subject before.

Sedef Ç.: They said, “We should have come to you, not you to us.”

Boysan Y.: This is how politics works in Turkey: if you’re not there, your rights are not there either.

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Turkish MP Tanal’s press conference for Trans Day of Remembrance

Mahmut Tanal, MP from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), held a press conference for Trans Day of Remembrance on November 20th to commemorate the victims of transphobic hate crimes.

Buse Kılıckaya and Selin Berghan from Pink Life Association and Melahat Deniz and Murat Koylu from Kaos GL Association participated in the press conference organized by Tanal for Trans Day of Remembrance, commemorating trans people who have been victims of hate crimes.

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Turkish MPs to participate in EU LGBTI seminar

Four members of Parliament from the AKP, CHP and MHP will participate in the seminar on the fundamental rights and protections for LGBTI communities against discrimination organized by the European Parliament in Tirana.

Source: Ömer Akpınar, “AKP, CHP ve MHP’den vekiller LGBTİ seminerine katılacak” (Members of Parliament from AKP, CHP and MHP to participate in an LGBTI seminar) Kaos GL, 17 November 2014, http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=17971

Mehmet Metiner and Ziver Özdemir from the ruling party AKP, Binnaz Toprak from the CHP and Ruhsar Demirel from the MHP will participate in the seminar titled, “Fundamental Rights, Non-Discrimination and the Protection of Vulnerable Groups Including the LGBTI people,” which will be held in the Albanian capital Tirana between November 20th-21st.

European Parliament organizes seminar against discrimination

The event will bring together members of parliaments from EU pre-accession / candidate countries with representatives from the European Parliament. Topics of discussion will include legislation against discrimination, protection of minority rights and the role of media in changing prejudicial attitudes towards sexual orientation and gender identity.

Albanian Parliamentary Spokesperson Ilir Meta and Minister of Social Affairs Erion Velliaj will speak at the event. Also present at the event will be important names such as Gianludovico de Martino di Montegiordano, from the Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU and president of the Interministerial  Human Rights Committee, as well as Urike Lunacek, Vice President, EU-Western Balkans, the author of the report outlining the EU’s LGBT roadmap.

Do you know the members of Parliament who will represent Turkey in Tirana?

Mehmet Metiner, AKP MP from Adıyaman: Member of the Human Rights Investigation Committee. He participated in visits to the three prisons in Antalya and Alanya organized by the subcommittee on prisons. Complaints by gay and trans inmates were also included in the report on the issues in the L- Type Antalya prison.

Ziver Özdemir,  AKP MP from Batman: Member of the Human Rights Investigation Committee. He has no record of work on LGBTI issues.

Binnaz Toprak, CHP MP from İstanbul:  Deputy Chair,  Committee on Equal Opportunities for Men and Women. She submitted a motion to ex Prime Minister Erdogan regarding the problems of LGBT people. Backed by 59 signatures from the CHP she motioned the Parliament for a Parliamentary Investigation into the matter. In May 2013, she received the Outspoken Award presented by the Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in the USA.

Ruhsar Demirel, MHP MP from Eskişehir: MHP Vice President, Member of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Men and Women. He met with Kaos GL’s Legal Counsel Hayriye Kara and Foreign Relations Coordinator Murat Köylü for consultation regarding the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Report on Turkey.

Homophobic attack by Milli Gazete!

Millî Gazete[2] reported the Turkish Parliament’s approval of MPs’  participation in the event with the headline “Parliament gives pass for Immorality.” A news report published on Friday by Ahmet Yavuz in the paper states, “even the mention of LGBT rights in parliamentary proceedings is the biggest insult to the nation and its beliefs.”

LGBTI activists from Turkey will also participate in the seminar

Kaos GL’s Legal Counsel Hayriye Kara as well as LGBTI activists from Turkey will be in Tirana for the event. Günseli Dum from LISTAG (Families of LGBTI individuals) will also give a presentation on LISTAG’s work.

 


[1] CHP: Republican People’s Party; AKP: Justice and Development Party; MHP: Nationalist Action Party

[2] A conservative Turkish Daily Newspaper.