People’s Democratic Party

Lawyers Levent Pişkin and Cahit Kırkazak released

Detained LGBTI activist and lawyer Levent Pişkin and lawyer Cahit Kırkazak have been released on conditions of judicial control and restrictions on travelling abroad.

Source: Kaos GL, “Lawyers Levent Pişkin and Cahit Kırkazak released”, Kaos GL, 17 November 2016, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=22515

Detained after their meetings with arrested Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, LGBTI activist and Lawyer Levent Pişkin and lawyer Cahit Kırkazak have been released on conditions of judicial review and restrictions on travelling abroad by the Criminal Court of Peace in Bursa Courthouse.

In the scope of the same trial, interrogation of 7 other detainees sent to the court for arrest is continuing.

According to Evrensel’s news, lawyer and HDP Istanbul Provincial Administrator Levent Pişkin was accused with the allegations of “organizing the act to lobby internationally against our country by publishing a note regarding the HDP co-chair Demirtas’ arrest in the German Der Spiegel magazine” during his interrogation by the police.

Levent Pişkin said the following in his statement:

On November 5, as the party (HDP) lawyers, we met with Demirtas and other imprisoned parliamentarians in Edirne, Silivri, and Kandira prisons. On November 6, we organized a news conference for national and international press in HDP’s Istanbul Provincial Headquarters to announce the results of the meetings. After this meeting, international journalists asked questions in English. As the only lawyer who spoke English, I answered their questions.

After the meeting, two people from the German Der Spiegel asked me if I can bring a handwritten note by Demirtas with a message about his condition. I told them that I would not be going to Edirne prison this week but that if there is another friend (who’d go), I could tell them to relay their request to Demirtas.

I told Mr. Cahit that a German magazine asked for a handwritten note from the president (Demirtas) and asked him if he could or could not relay this message to the president and if the president agreed on a handwritten note, whether he could or could not bring that message. That’s the content of the conversation. There is no lobbying activity with any German magazine. The event is purely that I spoke with Mr. Cahit because I was by chance the only person in the provincial building who spoke English.

What happened?

Representing arrested HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş, attorney Levent Pişkin was taken into custody during a house raid in Istanbul at around 5 a.m. on November 14.

Before the detention, allegations took place in media outlets such as Takvim, Sabah, Ulusal Kanal (sourcing state-run Anadolu news agency) that Pişkin and Kırkazak would send Demirtaş’s messages to a magazine  in Germany to be used for propaganda.

A social media action with #LeventPişkinYalnızDeğildir hashtags, meaning #LeventPiskinIsNotAlone was started. Libertarian Lawyers’ Association (Özgürlükçü Hukukçular Derneği) where he’s a member, Center for Truth Justice Memory and Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee made statements about his detention.

His alma mater Boğaziçi University and Solidarity Network with Arrested Students (Tutuklu Öğrencilerle Dayanışma Ağı) published messages of support for him.

His detention was also covered in the international media. The Paris Bar Association granted Pişkin honorary membership.

Turkey’s state-run news agency story on Lawyer Levent Piskin

A magazine in Germany asked for a message to Europe and Germany from the HDP’s Co-President Demirtas through a lawyer who would visit him in prison for the purposes of propaganda.

Source: Uğur Ulu, “Alman dergisi propaganda için Demirtaş’tan mesaj istemiş”, (“German magazine asked for a message from Demirtas for propaganda”), Anadolu Agency, 12 November 2016, http://aa.com.tr/tr/turkiye/alman-dergisi-propaganda-icin-demirtastan-mesaj-istemis/683979

It has been found that a magazine in Germany asked for a note from the HDP’s (Peoples’ Democratic Party) Co-President Selahattin Demirtas for propaganda in Europe and Germany.

According to information gathered by Anadolu Agency reporter, the Bursa Public Prosecutor’s Office ordered the detention of lawyer C.K. who has been tracked for a while in relation to the investigation on terror organization PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party).

C.K., a lawyer in Bursa, was detained by the Provincial Police Headquarters Anti-Terror Unit in the morning on Monday, 7 November.

It has been learned that C.K. was planning to visit the HDP’s Co-president Demirtas in Edirne F Type Prison where he has been imprisoned and that C.K. announced this to some administrators.

It has been recorded that lawyer L.P., who is an administrator in the HDP’s Istanbul district presidency, contacted C.K. upıon finding out that C.K. would visit Demirtas and informed him of the German magazine’s request.

It has been determined that the German magazine requested “a handwritten note by Demirtas, with a message addressing Europe and Germany.” for propaganda purposes.

LGBTI Activist Lawyer Levent Pişkin detained in Turkey

One of the attorneys of recently arrested HDP Co-Leader Selahattin Demirtaş was detained after being targeted by the pro-government media.

Editor’s Note: The co-leaders of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were arrested along with eight other parliamentarians in November. HDP is the third largest party in Parliament with 59 elected lawmakers. The lawmakers were arrested on terror-related charges pending trial. Turkey’s government accuses the HDP of being the political wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decades-long insurgency against the state. The party rejects the accusation.

Source: “LGBTI Aktivisti Avukat Levent Pişkin Gözaltına Alındı” (LGBTI Activist Lawyer Leven Pişkin is detained), kaosgl.org, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=22488, November 14, 2016

Levent Pişkin, who is a lawyer, LGBTI activist and an HDP Istanbul administrator, had recently visited HDP Co-Leader Selahattin Demirtaş in prison and was detained early this morning.

leventpiskin1

Special operations police units arrived at Pişkin’s house in Kurtuluş, Istanbul around 05.00 a.m and confiscated some of Pişkin’s belongings from his room after detaining him.

Pişkin, a member of Libertarian Jurists Association (ÖHD), which is among the 370 associations ordered to halt their activities, is a renowned human rights advocate. ÖHD announced Pişkin’s detention on Twitter:

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-13-11-20

Libertarian Jurists Association Istanbul Branch: “Our member, HDP Istanbul administrator Lawyer Leven Pişkin was detained during early morning, after being targeted by the pro-government media.”

Pişkin had visited his client Demirtaş as a lawyer and was targeted by Sabah daily (sourcing state-run Anadolu news agency) with the following statements:

It has been recorded that lawyer L.P., who is an administrator in the HDP’s Istanbul district presidency, contacted C.K. upıon finding out that C.K. would visit Demirtas and informed him of the German magazine’s request.

It has been determined that the German magazine requested “a handwritten note by Demirtas, with a message addressing Europe and Germany.” for propaganda purposes.

Levent Pişkin was detained by the orders of Bursa Public Prosecutor’s Office and is being taken to Bursa.

Lawyer C.K. was detained based on the same allegations on November 7 and was later released.

Lawyer Levent Pişkin also represents LGBTI associations and takes part in Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week Committee. He represents Istanbul Pride March and Pride Week.

List of LGBTI Rights Pledgers Chosen for Parliament in Turkey’s November 1 Elections

Source: “İşte Seçimde Meclise Giren LGBTİ Hakları Takipçişi Milletvekilleri” (“List of LGBTI Rights-Following Representatives Chosen for Parliament in Election”), Gzone, 2 November 2015, http://gzone.com.tr/iste-secimde-meclise-giren-lgbti-haklari-takipcisi-milletvekilleri/

LGBTI rights very rarely came to the forefront of the most recent election period. There were no openly identified LGBTI individuals on the candidate lists of any of the parties, but following yesterday’s election, there were some representatives chosen from among LGBTI rights-defending CHP and HDP representatives who had signed the LGBTI Rights Pledge.

As a result of the “LGBTIs in Parliament” campaign led by SPoD LGBTI with support from LGBTI activists from all over Turkey leading up to the June 7th 2015 general elections, 22 representatives from the CHP and HDP signed the LGBTI Rights Agreement upon being elected. After the November 1st repeat of the general election, 16 of these candidates were elected once again.

The full list of candidates as published by SPoD LGBTI is as follows:

  1. Aylin Nazlıaka CHP Ankara Representative
  2. Selin Sayek Böke CHP Izmir Representative
  3. Zeynep Altıok CHPIzmir Representative
  4. Musa Çam CHPIzmir Representative
  5. Oğuz Kaan Salıcı CHP Istanbul Representative
  6. İlhan Cihaner CHP Istanbul Representative
  7. Aykut Erdoğdu CHP Istanbul Representative
  8. Dursun Çiçek CHP Istanbul Representative
  9. Selina Doğan CHP Istanbul Representative
  10. Şafak Pavey CHP Istanbul Representative
  11. Enis Berberoğlu CHP Istanbul Representative
  12. Sezgin Tanrıkulu CHP Istanbul Representative
  13. Didem Engin CHP Istanbul Representative
  14. Erdal Ataş HDP Istanbul Representative
  15. Filiz Kerestecioğlu HDP Istanbul Representative
  16. Onursal Adıgüzel CHP Istanbul Representative

HDP’s Paylan submits Parliamentary Question to Minister of Interior on LGBTI activist Kemal Ördek, Discrimination, and Violence against LGBTI

Garo Paylan, a Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) member of parliament from Istanbul, asked Minister of Interior Sebahattin Öztürk about the attack against LGBTI activist Kemal Ördek.

Source: Bia Haber, “Garo Paylan’dan LGBTİ Aktivisti Kemal Ördek’e Saldırı Hakkında Soru Önergesi” (“Parliamentary Question on LGBTI Activist Kemal Ördek from Garo Paylan”), bianet.org, 15 July 2015, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/166058-garo-paylan-dan-lgbti-aktivisti-kemal-ordek-e-saldiri-hakkinda-soru-onergesi

Garo Paylan, an HDP member of parliament from Istanbul, asked Minister of Interior Sebahattin Öztürk about the attack against LGBTI activist Kemal Ördek.

LGBTI activist Kemal Ördek was sexually assaulted on Sunday, 5 July, at their home in Ankara. In response to an officer’s comment, “Enough with this Tribe of Lot,” the assailants allegedly responded “We are real men, officer; you would understand, wouldn’t you?” and were subsequently released. Ördek spoke about the incident to bianet.

Following the attack, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville made written statements and called on Turkish authorities to take effective measures against homophobic and transphobic aggression and discrimination in a written statement. Republican People’s Party Members of Parliament Mahmut Tanal (Istanbul) and Veli Ağbaba (Malatya) introduced the issue to the parliament with parliamentary questions.

The parliamentary question that Garo Paylan submitted to the Minister of Interior Sebahattin Öztürk includes the following questions:

  • Is it correct that Kemal Ördek called the police for help, but was ignored and scolded by the police?
  • Is it correct that one officer commented, “Enough with the Tribe of Lot,” referring to Kemal Ördek, and that some other officers teased them due to their sexual identity?
  • Has an administrative investigation been started about the officers involved?
  • What is the number of similar attacks against LGBTI individuals between 2010-2015 according to official records?
  • How many LGBTI individuals lost their lives or sustained injuries as a result of similar attacks in the last five years?
  • What kinds of penalties have Directorate of Security employees received as a result of investigations conducted in this subject?

22 MPs in Turkey’s New Parliament Will Support LGBTI Rights

64 candidates for parliament signed SPoD LGBTI’s LGBTI Rights Pledge ahead of the elections and promised to protect LGBT rights. The number of pledgers are expected to increase. 22 of the pledgers have won seats in the Parliament.

The candidates below will be entering Turkey’s 25th Parliament. They have pledged to work for LGBTI rights in Turkey.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)

  1. Asiye Kolçak, MP for Bursa from HDP
  2. Çilem Öz, MP for Mersin from HDP
  3. Erdal Ataş, MP for Istanbul from HDP
  4. Filiz Kerestecioğlu, MP for Istanbul from HDP
  5. Ali Haydar Konca, MP for Kocaeli from HDP
  6. Remzi Özgökçe, MP for Van from HDP
  7. Selami Özyaşar, MP for Van from HDP

Republican People’s Party (CHP)

  1. Oğuz Kaan Salıcı, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  2. İlhan Cihaner, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  3. Aykut Erdoğdu, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  4. Dursun Çiçek, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  5. Didem Engin, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  6. Sezgin Tanrıkulu, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  7. Şafak Pavey, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  8. Zeynep Altıok, MP for Izmir from CHP
  9. Musa Çam, MP for Izmir from CHP
  10. Selin Sayek Böke, MP for Izmir from CHP
  11. Selina Doğan, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  12. Enis Berberoğlu, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  13. Aylin Nazlıaka, MP for Ankara from CHP
  14. Onursal Adıgüzel, MP for Istanbul from CHP
  15. Özcan Purçu, MP for Izmir from CHP

Please see the full list of pledgers below.

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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.

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.”

Onedio’s Disclaimer: “This content is listed only on the profile of the user who created it. This content has been produced by a user who is a member of Onedio and has not been intervened by Onedio editors.”


[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

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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Barış Sulu: “I chose the HDP, because LGBTIs have been in the HDP since the beginning”

The HDP’s [Peoples’ Democratic Party] parliamentary candidate Barış Sulu: “I chose the HDP, because LGBTIs have been in the HDP since the beginning. It’s not a newly added group to the party.”

Source: Ali Kemal Akan, “HDP’yi seçtim çünkü LGBTI’liler baştan beri varlar” (“I chose the HDP, because LGBTIs have been in the HDP since the beginning”), Anadolu Agency, 25 May 2015, http://www.aa.com.tr/tr/rss/516349–hdp-yi-sectim-cunku-lgbtililer-bastan-beri-varlar

Barış Sulu, the HDP’s LGBTI candidate for Eskişehir, remarked, “I chose the HDP, because LGBTI individuals have been in the HDP since the beginning. It’s not a newly added group to the party.”

In an interview with the Anadolu Agency [Turkey’s semi-official news agency], Sulu noted that he has been working on LGBTI rights, and has been involved in LGBTI associations since 1998.

sulu-jpg20150525165852

Sulu said that he discussed the candidacy with his boyfriend and family when the HDP offered to nominate him. “I’m open to my family. I’m not in the closet. I received the greatest support from my family and my boyfriend as the process moved along. I spoke with my friends from the HDP; I consulted them a lot.”

Nominated by the HDP as the sixth parliamentary candidate for the Eskişehir province, Sulu remarked that he’s not new to politics.

“I’ve been working on LGBTI issues for the last 17 years. I believe that I start doing politics automatically the moment I say ‘I’m here.’ I started my political life the moment I said ‘I’m gay, I live in this country, and I’m not going anywhere. I start my struggle right here.’”

Sulu noted that his candidacy will pave the way for more LGBTI candidacies in future elections even if he is not elected this term: “In four years, elections will turn into something completely different. There may be more than just one gay man; there may be a lesbian candidate, a trans candidate. Things can be completely different in four years from now.”

Sulu reiterated the fact that he’s been in the HDP since the time when the organization was known as the HDK: “I chose the HDP, because LGBTI individuals have been in the HDP since the beginning. It’s not a newly added group. During the HDK phase, Ertuğrul Kürkçü would say “We’re here, you’re welcome here” in 22 languages in his speeches, because 22 different languages are spoken in this country. LGBTIs were present in that process. All these different identities were already together. They have been in the process since the very beginning.”

Noting that CHP has also intensified its LGBTI work, Sulu said, “I’ve been to the Parliament often, because I’ve been involved in LGBTI activism for years. I’ve participated in meetings to express our issues. CHP places a lot of parliamentary questions about LGBTIs and so does the HDP. Unfortunately, there aren’t any other parties that produce knowledge about LGBTIs, support them, or acknowledge that LGBTIs are being discriminated against.”

Sulu commented that he had incorrectly expected the CHP to nominate an LGBTI candidate for the upcoming elections, though Anadolu Party nominated one in Izmir.

Sulu was informed about his candidacy through a phone call that he received from the HDP headquarters. “Demirtaş is already talking about the rights of LGBTI individuals. He asserted, ‘If this is a risk, then we’re taking that risk.’ The HDP has an LGBTI committee, just like a women’s committee and a youth committee. It’s in a state of dialogue. We have an election manifesto, a section of which reads ‘We’re the rainbow.’ This is a pamphlet that has been distributed to all provinces for all the party members to read and learn from.”

Sulu notes that 85 percent of Turkey’s population does not want to see an LGBTI candidate: “I have been in Diyarbakır several times. There’s a different atmosphere there. The perception of LGBTIs doesn’t change wherever you go. Maybe the current process will soften that perception. It will help people understand more. We’re being killed despite our right to live. That’s what we’re talking about. We say, we can’t receive an education, we’re kicked out of schools, we experience bullying. We experience a whole other set of issues at hospitals. We can’t find work. People are forced to do different kinds of work. They are pushed to the margins of society. We’re trying to talk about these issues and I believe that our voice is heard here and there.”

Star News: “Vile propaganda from the HDP’s homosexual candidate”

Translator’s Note: As Turkey’s June 7 general elections approach, there is an increasing use of LGBTI by the governing Justice and Development Party representatives and pro-government media to criticize the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party. We have provided a verbatim translation of an article on openly gay candidate for parliament Barış Sulu, which appeared in pro-government media. Note that the word “faggot” has been reclaimed by LGBTIs in Turkey and is not considered an insult as exemplified by activist Levent Pişkin’s case and subsequent statements by LGBTI associations.

Source: Star, “HDP’li eşcinsel adaydan rezil propaganda!”, “Vile propaganda from the HDP’s homosexual candidate”, Star, 22 May 2015, http://haber.star.com.tr/politika/hdpnin-escinsel-adayindan-rezil-propaganda/haber-1030697

The HDP’s [Peoples’ Democratic Party], which claims to be Turkey’s party, candidate for parliament from Eskişehir, Barış Sulu, who is an LGBTI member is drawing a big reaction due to his election propaganda with swear words. Sulu questions the morality of people who are uncomfortable with two men kissing.

The HDP, which is trying to create the image of being a party of Turkey to cross the 10 percent threshold, has promised to recognize and create social policies for LGBTIs which represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. As a reflection of this promise, it put forth LGBTI member Barış Sulu as a candidate for parliament from Eskişehir in the 6th rank. Once his candidacy was declared, HDP’s candidate for parliament Barış Sulu started writing messages on Twitter that begin with “I am a f****t” to make a propaganda for the widening of LGBTIs rather than the HDP. Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan has criticized the HDP’s LGBTI attitude, which is no longer a life choice of Barış Sulu but rather a propaganda that imposes on everyone to accept [LGBTI].

Time for Propaganda with Swear Words

The HDP’s homosexual candidate for parliament Barış Sulu was presented to Turkey with a Hürriyet newspaper interview titled “A woman, a man and a gay marriage” and he is after a homosexuality propaganda on Twitter. Instead of asking for votes for the HDP, Sulu makes the propaganda “Recognize our sexual orientation” and wants people to react normally to men kissing. He approaches homosexuality using the swear word f*g and does not abstain from insulting all homosexuals. While doing this, Barış Sulu also uses religious elements in his propaganda.

Gathering votes with the call to prayer lie

Barış Sulu wrote a Twitter message saying “If two men kissing bothers you more than two men killing each other, then you need to urgently question your moral understanding” and then hunted for votes by taking refuge in religious elements by saying “Call to prayer and prayer delayed by 50 minutes because Erdoğan was speaking”. In another message he insults all homosexuals by saying “I know very well that I am a f****t, please rise from the primary school level and be more creative, know yourself, relax and come out”.

Is this how to become a party of Turkey?

Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan has also reacted against the HDP’s homosexuality propaganda through Barış Sulu. Akdoğan reminded that “the HDP claims to “become a party of Turkey” and said, “How can a party that says (I will become a party of Turkey) have a terror organization in its substitutes? One municipal leader gets up and says, “there was a pontic genocide and Turkey massacred 350 thousand people”. So you will become a party of Turkey by talking about the Armenian genocide, the pontic genocide and insult your own country? They put forth homosexual candidates and are defending homosexual marriage. Will the HDP become a party of Turkey by defending this?”

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.

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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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Pro-Kurdish and minority rights HDP pledges to eliminate discrimination against LGBTIs

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) announced its election manifesto which places a strong emphasis on anti-discrimination protections and social policies for LGBTI people.

Kaos GL, “Pro-Kurdish HDP pledges LGBTI equality”, 21 April 2015, http://kaosgl.org/page.php?id=19240

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chairs Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas announced their manifesto today for the June 7 elections.

The party, which has to pass the 10% election threshold to be in the Parliament, made pledges on social rights, union rights and freedoms, conscientious objection, women’s rights, youth, the Kurdish issue and the resolution process, judicial reform and democracy.

The manifesto also explains the HDP’s LGBTI politics under the section “LGBTIs’ equal, free and proud right to life” as follows:

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Gay and trans candidates to run for parliament seat in Turkey’s general elections

Political parties in Turkey announced their candidate lists for the upcoming parliamentary election. The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party nominated 3 LGBTI activists as candidates, albeit from lower positions. A trans activist was also nominated as a candidate for the newly founded Anatolia Party.

Source: “Gay and trans candidates to run for Turkish general elections”, kaosGL.org, 8 April 2015,  http://kaosgl.org/page.php?id=19141

Political parties in Turkey submitted their lists of candidates to the Supreme Election Board (YSK) on April 7 as the country prepares for the June 7 general elections. Only 4 LGBTI activists were nominated as candidates for the 550-seat parliament and they are at lower positions on the lists, which postpones the hopes for the first openly LGBTI member of parliament in Turkey until the 2019 elections.

Barış Sulu, an openly gay Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) candidate, was nominated from Eskisehir in the last position. For Sulu, having LGBTI candidates itself is more valuable than their position on the list. However, he said that he wished there were more LGBTI candidates.

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Barış Sulu carrying a banner which reads: “LGBT rights is a whole that cannot be divided!”

In a KaosGL.org interview last month, Sulu approached the ongoing Kurdish resolution process from the LGBTI perspective and said: “Peace must also be made with the LGBTIs in the resolution process.”

The HDP, which has to pass the 10 percent electoral threshold, also nominated two feminist and LGBTI activists -Özlem Sen from Mersin in the 4th position and Gülistan Aydoğdu from Ankara in the 12th position- as candidates.

Deva Özenen, a Christian trans woman in Izmir, was nominated as a candidate by the Anatolia Party which was founded by Emine Ülker Tarhan who resigned from the main opposition Republican People’s Party last year.

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Deva Ozenen (left) and Emine Ulker Tarhan (right)

“I am an ‘other’ both as a trans and as a Christian. By nominating me as a candidate, the Anatolia Party showed that they are not canvassing,” Ozenen told KaosGL.org.

Ozenen also underlined that Kemalism is not an elitist ideology but it embraces all oppressed groups including sexual minorities.

Politics School for LGBTI Begins

As the general elections approach, Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association has begun its “In school, at work, in the parliament: LGBTIs are everywhere!” campaign. SPoD LGBTI representatives visited the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Istanbul Municipal Branch to inform them of the campaign. SPoD LGBTI aims to make LGBTI rights visible in the 2015 general elections and its Politics School is set to begin this week.

Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association’s Politics School will have its first session on Saturday, 28 February 2015 in Istanbul. The Politics School, which aims to strengthen lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex individuals in the political arena and to make LGBTI rights visible in the 2015 general elections, will run until 4 March 2015.

The third annual Politics School will inform LGBTIs of political participation mechanisms, conduct presentations and workshops to encourage active political participation, and plan future political representation and participation activities. The school aims to involve participants in campaigns and monitoring for the general elections in their own cities. The subjects to be covered are: Democracy and freedoms, queer democracy, participation methods in decision-making mechanisms, civil society in law-making processes, LGBTI movement’s history and political participation, political parties and rights-based policies, gender focused budgets, LGBTI focused social policies, LGBTI rights in local politics, organizing election campaigns and election monitoring.

Visits to Parties

SPoD LGBTI has started visiting political parties to inform them of their “In school, at work, in the parliament: LGBTIs are everywhere!” campaign for the general elections. SPoD LGBTI activists conducted their first visit to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and met with HDP’s Istanbul Co-President Ayşe Erdem.

The meeting took place in the party’s Beyoğlu headquarters. SPoD LGBTI’s Sezen Yalçın, Erdal Partog and Mehmet Akın explained the campaign, which will last until June, to Istanbul Co-President Ayşe Erdem. They discussed what SPoD LGBTI can do with HDP’s candidates for Istanbul within the scope of this campaign and the Party’s agenda for LGBTI rights in the election campaigns.

SPoD Political Representation and Participation Coordinator Sezen Yalçın emphasized that the campaign would function independently from political parties and that this campaign serves to bring LGBTI rights to the parliament. HDP’s Istanbul Co-President Erdem said HDP supports LGBTI rights and declared that they will support SPoD’s campaign in Istanbul.

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).