Gülsüm Ağaoğlu

SPoD LGBTI on IDAHOT: Of course we are in politics!

Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (SPoD LGBTI) organized a cocktail with the call “Of course we are in politics” for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on 17 May. Politicians, lawyers, psychologists, and academics joined the cocktail and emphasized LGBTI rights.

Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (SPoD LGBTI) organized a cocktail with the call “Of course we are in politics” for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on 17 May. The Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) Istanbul co-spokesperson Ayşe Erdem, the HDP’s Istanbul 2nd District Candidate and LGBTI Rights Pledge signatory Gülsüm Ağaoğlu, the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Istanbul 2nd District Candidate and LGBTI Rights Pledge signatory Gül Yüksel as well as representatives from LGBTI organizations, SPoD’s volunteer lawyers, psychologists, health-care workers, and academics joined the cocktail.

In the opening remarks, SPoD’s President of the Board Volkan Yılmaz informed the guests on the association’s work and called on them to support LGBTI associations. SPoD’s Political Representation Coordinator Sezen Yalçın said the eradication of homophobia and transphobia requires a long-term struggle. Yalçın emphasized the importance of LGBTI participation in politics and informed guests about the In School, at Work, at the Parliament election campaign with the idea that “We are used to politics, politics and politicians should get used to us”. Yalçın said 33 candidates for parliament have signed the LGBTI Rights Pledge ahead of the 7 June general elections and that the signatories are increasing daily.

Beşiktaş Municipality Mayorial Advisor and SPoD’s Board Member Sedef Çakmak reminded guests that very few parliamentarians were reached in the mid 2000s when LGBTI associations faced the threat of closure. She emphasized the increase in number of LGBTI rights supporters in many levels of politics and how important this win is.

Istanbul 2nd District Independent Candidate Batuhan Aydagül signed the LGBTI Rights Pledge and said he will take the problems of youth facing discrimination in education due to sexual orientation and gender identity to the parliament.

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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).

The HDP Istanbul candidates sign the LGBTI Rights Pledge

SPoD LGBTI is circulating an LGBTI Rights Pledge, part of the “LGBTI in the Parliament” campaign, for signatures in the run-up to the June 7th parliamentary elections in Turkey. The first signatories to the Pledge are HDP’s women candidates who proclaimed “We are the Rainbow.”

In the run-up to the parliamentary elections to be held on June 7th, the Istanbul based LGBTI advocacy group SPoD (Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association) is circulating the LGBTI Rights Pledge to be signed by parliamentary candidates. Representatives of SPoD LGBTI drafted the LGBTI Rights Pledge as part of their “LGBTI in the Parliament” campaign. The campaign was started in February in order to demand the active inclusion of LGBTI individuals in decision and policy making processes. SPoD representatives visited the HDP [People’s Democracy Party], whose female candidates for Istanbul signed the Pledge. The candidates had previously included a section in their election manifesto called “We are the Rainbow.”

Are you ready to defend LGBTI rights?

The participants of the meeting, which was held in the HDP Istanbul Province Building, included Istanbul 2nd District parliamentary candidates Filiz Kerestecioğlu, Gülsüm Ağaoğlu, İnciser Alptekin, Elif Sırlıoğlu, Istanbul 3rd District parliamentary candidates Hülya İmak and Elif Bulut as well as  representatives from SPoD.

SPoD LGBTI Political Representation Field Coordinator Sezen Yalçın underlined the importance of the section “We are the Rainbow” in the HDP’s election manifesto for the LGBTI and asked the parliamentary candidates: “Are you ready to defend the LGBTI rights?” Lawyer Filiz Kerestecioğlu, the HDP candidate from the 2nd District, read out loud the LGBTI Rights Pledge and said: “We became candidates in order to carry the voices of the street and their struggles into the parliament.”

Gülsüm Ağaoğlu described the HDP election manifesto as a poem of human rights rather than a mere promise, and stated that, as a party open to all the colors of the rainbow, it is their goal to implement the demands outlined in the Pledge. Imak said, “When ‘we’ are in the parliament, you will be there as well. We are not your representatives, but are the voices of all those who have been victimized.” Bulut, Alptekin and Sırlıoğlu signed the Pledge and added that it is their wish to see a political environment where everyone can coexists while enjoying their rights and their identities without the need for such a pledge.

SPoD’s eyes are on the parliamentary representatives

SPoD LGBTI calls on the parliamentary candidates to embrace a political position that guarantees the LGBTI rights and freedoms and will share with the public the names of  parliamentary candidates who sign the pledge. If the candidates get elected in the upcoming parliamentary election, SPoD will hold them accountable to their pledge through monitoring their work in the new legislative period.

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