Melda Onur

Sema Yakar Will Serve As Advisor to Şişli’s New Equality Unit

At the inauguration of Şişli’s Social Equality Unit, Şişli Mayor Hayri İnönü noted that the Unit will focus on gender issues and Sema Yakar will serve as a volunteer advisor.

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Şişli Eşitlik Birimi’ne Sema Yakar Danışmanlık Yapacak”, (“Sema Yakar Will Serve As Advisor to Şişli’s New Equality Unit”), kaosgl.org, 23 October 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=20401

Şişli’s new Social Equality Unit was inaugurated at an event in Şişli’s City Hall. The night was hosted by Mayor Hayri İnönü and attended by representatives from LGBTI and human rights organizations, as well as the consuls of the United States, Israel, Brazil, and Canada.

Hosted by actress Seyhan Arman, the event introduced the Unit set up largely by the efforts of Boysan Yakar, LGBTI activist and the advisor to the Mayor, who recently died in a traffic accident.

sisliesitlikbirimigece_3“This is a space that we fought to earn”

Arman began her speech with words in memory of Yakar: “In a world of inequalities and discrimination, Boysan convinced us that we could win if we stood united. He conquered our hearts with his kindhearted and egalitarian attitude. This space can be seen as simply a workplace, but it is also a space that we fought to earn.”

After Arman’s speech, a video was screened showing the Unit’s street interviews on the subject, “What is gender?”

Next, the municipality’s social media representative Dilek Güven delivered a speech. A close coworker of Boysan, Güven had a hard time suppressing her tears. She reminisced about meeting Boysan in the local elections and his question to her at the time, “Will you stand by me?”

“I had not understood exactly what he meant at the time, but now I do. The Equality Unit was one of Boysan’s biggest dreams. He had told me a long time ago that we would succeed in setting up this unit. And with Mayor Hayri İnönü’s leadership, the Unit has finally come into being.”

“Hayri İnönü: Boysan inspired us all”

Mayor Hayri İnönü also began his speech with words honoring Boysan: “Boysan was someone that everybody should have met. He inspired us all with his high level of energy. His absence is deeply felt.” İnönü conveyed his condolences once again to Yakar’s family, the LGBTI community, and to all human rights advocates.

İnönü explained how the Social Equality Unit is planned to function:

“The Social Equality Unit will develop the municipality’s policies regarding women, LGBTIs, disabled individuals, minorities, refugees, children and senior citizens, who experience economic, social, and cultural discrimination. The Unit will work both on the services that we provide within our participatory government framework and the issues of inclusion within decision-making mechanisms. Our final goal is to eliminate all social inequalities.”

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Sema Yakar will serve as advisor to the Unit

After tackling gender, the Unit will gradually expand its work area and encompass all of society. The Unit will receive guidance from a volunteer team headed by Sema Yakar, Boysan’s mother and a founder of LISTAG (Families of LGBTIs in Istanbul).

Sema Yakar: “Boysan is my comrade”

Sema Yakar, who was in the US to work on Boysan’s uncompleted tasks from when he was in the US earlier this year, joined the event via a videotaped message. Yakar remarked that, these days, we see once again that human life is cheap. Speaking in memory of Boysan, she noted, “He is my comrade, my teacher of all things new. Your fight will be the fight of us all.”

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Boysan’s father Hakan Yakar continued: “Being an ‘other,’ Boysan had to begin his fight at an early age. He was an LGBTI activist, an advocate of human rights and the environment, a brave heart, a revolutionary, and most importantly, the pride of our family.” Yakar noted that a book that Boysan was reading before his death, called Beyond Human, was found at the accident site: “He had scribbled in the margins the ‘cheapness of death in Turkey.’ It is so true. Traffic monsters took away three of our dearest souls: Boysan, Zeliş, and Mert. May they rest in peace.”

“No peace without equality”

Melda Onur, a CHP candidate in the general elections from Istanbul, remarked that Boysan’s absence was deeply felt: “We have to hold on to each other tightly and continue the struggle.” Onur said that the Unit should set an example for other municipalities.

“There can be no peace without equality and no freedom without peace. I hope that this Unit sets an example to all local governments and inspires them, starting with municipalities in Istanbul.”

The last speaker was Meltem Ağduk from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Ağduk reminded the audience of the “Women Friendly Cities” project that her agency had started in 2005: “Şişli Municipality’s project seems to be at a much more advanced level than our project. Cities are founded with a masculine perspective and this perspective labels many groups as ‘others.’ The way to overcome this problem is to multiply projects like the one started by Şişli.”

The night was concluded with a cocktail.

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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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MP asks the Ministry of Justice about Hate Crimes

Melda Onur, a prominent parliamentarian in Turkey, filed an official parliamentary question, asking the Ministry of Justice about hate crimes against LGBTI individuals and formal measures taken against such crimes (PDF file).

The Grand National Assembly of Turkey

Republican People’s Party (CHP)

Group Presidency

Date: 20 October 2014

No: 31239

To the Presidency of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey

I request that my questions below be answered by the Minister of Justice, Bekir Bozdağ, in writing.

Melda Onur

Member of Parliament from Istanbul

In Turkey, the othering of those who are perceived as different is transforming into hate murders when encouraged by the hate speech of some opinion leaders. The most obvious targets of these murders are LGBTI individuals and hate crimes against these individuals are increasing daily.

The murders that have been occurring in various cities show that the government does not take permanent legal measures or precautions against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

These attacks, which especially target trans individuals, have most recently led to both the discovery of the dead body of a trans woman, Gypsy Gül, in her Istanbul home as well as the brutal murder of trans woman Corti Emel. Effective investigations are not conducted after these attacks, which threaten the right to life; the punishments given to the criminals do not act as deterrents.

On the other hand, the “Bill to Amend Various Laws to Improve Fundamental Rights and Freedoms”, more commonly known as the “Democratization Package” was put forth by the government in March and passed as law by the Parliament. With the Democratization Package, the phrase “hate” has been included in law for the first time. However, the terms gender identity and sexual orientation have not been included in the law and no added punishment will be given if sexual assault and sexual harassment, etc. are conducted with motivation rooted in hatred.

Therefore, the inability to prevent physical and verbal assaults against LGBTI individuals across the country is a reflection of this legal vacuum.

As such,

  1. In the new legislative year, do you foresee additional arrangements to include attacks against LGBTI individuals within the scope of hate crimes?

  2. Does your ministry’s agenda include an action plan to prevent hate motivated attacks and murders that target LGBTI individuals? Are you considering coordination with other institutions?

  3. What is the number of trans and gay individuals who have lost their lives due to hate crimes in the last five years? What is the distribution of these across different cities?

  4. How many people have been tried for hate crimes against LGBTI individuals up to today and what is the total amount of jail time that these people were sentenced to?

Yeni Akit: CHP Collaborates with Perverts

Source: Yiğit Doğaner, “CHP Sapkınlarla İşbirliğinde,” (“CHP Collaborates with Perverts,”) 06 January 2014, Yeni Akit, http://www.yeniakit.com.tr/siyaset/chp-sapkinlarla-isbirliginde-h9064.html

Yeni Akit is a conservative daily newspaper that engages in hate speech against LGBTI people and other groups. This is a verbatim translation. 

CHP’s love for perverts is relentless. Melda Onur, the CHP MP for Istanbul, who has been engaged in collaborative work with the “International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission” (IGLHRC) regarding sexual perverts, went all the way to the UN headquarters in New York City to defend this group’s “rights.” She lobbied for the demands of sexual perverts, including same-sex marriage rights. Melda Onur, the CHP MP for Istanbul, Onur Fidangül and Zeynep Bilginsoy, who represented Kaos GL, the sexual perverts’ organization, participated as “the supporters of the LGBTI movement” in Turkey in the activities organized by the UN that brought together 45 activists from 20 countries. Bilginsoy explained that together with Onur and Fidangül, they worked successfully to advance the rights of homosexuals, transvestites, lesbians, transsexuals and others like them in Turkey, and that they engaged in lobbying efforts.

SAME SEX MARRIAGE IS OUR RIGHT, TOO

Bilginsoy explained that during the proceedings at the UN, they asked for Turkey to be pressured to include sexual orientation and gender identity in official documents and noted that as the Turkish delegation, they exchanged views on the rights struggle for same sex marriage.

CHP Leader Kılıçdaroğlu’s “Society is Not Ready for This” Cliché!

Orhun Gündüz, “Kılıçdaroğlu’ndan “Toplum Buna Hazır Değil” Klişesi!” (“Kılıçdaroğlu’s “Society is Not Ready for This” Cliché!), Hürileti, 21 December 2013, http://hurileti.com/yazar-75-kilicdaroglu_klise.html

The leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu met with online community “sourtimes” (ekşi sözlük) writers on 14 December 2013. In this meeting, he answered many questions ranging from topics like local elections and political conspiracy theories. The request to meet came from the CHP and one article states that Kılıçdaroğlu responded to questions on gay marriage and gay political representation. Though for unknown reason the details of this meeting was not brought about in the LGBTI agenda, it is impossible for me to ignore it.

It seems Kılıçdaroğlu almost evaded the issues of gay marriage and gay political representation and did not go outside the central political discourse: “I do not think the society of Turkey has reached this maturity. Because of this, it is not possible for the CHP to declare a gay candidate as mayor or establish gay marriage in a legal framework.” However, this statement does not correspond to the support some parliamentarians have given to LGBTI people, especially considering the fact the CHP attended Istanbul Pride with 8 parliamentarians.

This statement is completely contrary when the facts that various district and city LGBTI organizations of the CHP authored reports, Melda Onur went to the United Nations to increase the visibility of LGBTI people as a parliamentarian of a social democratic party, and many parliamentarians have submitted questions to the Assembly are taken into consideration. Then we keep thinking why people are hesitant towards the CHP. Furthermore, was it not Kılıçdaroğlu himself who met with the LGBTI Political Representation and Participation Platform? This was even presented as the CHP’s LGBTI opening by the media. The answer “society is not ready for this” is nothing but a cliché!

So what should we do to get society ready? Wait twenty years? What kind of change or maturity do we expect when amendments are not put on the agenda, when there are no candidates? I would not be surprised if someone stands up and says, “LGBTI people are not ready for Kılıçdaroğlu.” Plus, is it not condescending to posit that society cannot reach a certain maturity or to just say “it would not work anyway?” Is it not this attitude that the CHP has been trying to climb out for years?

Unfortunately, we do not see the consistent and encompassing answers regarding homosexuality when compared to the answers given to the other questions. We expect politicians to open the paths of anti-discriminatory policies. Kılıçdaroğlu can consult many people on this issue- parliamentarians working on LGBTI issues and the CHP’s LGBTI commissions in youth branches are among these people.

No matter what, it is no longer possible for the CHP to act conservatively on LGBTI rights. What must be done is to gain the support of not just some parliamentarians but all parliamentarians and representatives. Only when the CHP submits solid practices to the Assembly can we actually talk about a real social democratic stance.

 

CHP Parliamentarian Melda Onur’s Comments in Meeting with US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power

Source: LGBTI NEWS TURKEY,  simultaneous translation at event, 10 December 2013.

Melda Onur:

First of all we would like to thank you for this opportunity on this very important day, on human rights day. I am representing the main opposition party from Turkey, which is the Republican People’s Party.

Even though there is an ocean between Turkey and the US it is almost like we are neighbors. Both countries visit each other quite often and the president of the Republican People’s Party was just here. So I think everyone is following each other quite well. We are also sure that you have been following the rights violations in Turkey. These happen in various fields but the most important are the problems in the judiciary, in the freedom of expression, long detainment periods of parliamentarians as well as journalists.

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Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ’s Press Statement at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey

Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ was working as a football referee in Trabzon, Turkey for 14 years. After many ordeals in the military system, he finally got his “unfit to serve in the military” report based on his sexual orientation. The Turkish Military deems homosexuality a “psychosexual disorder.” He submitted this report to the Turkish Football Federation in Febraury 2009. This report was leaked to the press and his sexual orientation was outed. From that moment on, he was no longer assigned matches, barred from exams, and targeted by homophobia. In November 2010, Dinçdağ filed a suit against the Turkish Football Federation for the violation of his right to privacy and discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation. The 10th hearing of the case will be heard on 10 December 2013 on Human Rights Day.

Dinçdağ explained the process and the rights violations in a press statement with Republican People’s Party MP Melda Onur. Please turn the captions on for English subtitles.