Presidential elections in Turkey

People of Ağrı React to Posters of Transvestite Woman

Source: İlke News Agency, “Ağrılılardan travesti afişlerine tepki” (“People of Ağrı React to Posters of Transvestite Woman”), İLKHA, 07 August 2014,

Billboard advertisements in Ağrı for Asya Elmas, presented in recent local elections as the People’s Democratic Party (HDP)’s Kadıköy Municipal Council candidate to promote the HDP’s Presidential campaign propaganda, have drawn public reaction.

Asya Elmas

People in Ağrı have reacted harshly to a poster picturing transvestite Asya Elmas, displayed on a billboard on Kağızman Avenue in support of HDP Presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş.  Asya Elmas was presented in the local elections by the HDP as a candidate for the Municipal Council in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district.

Ağrı citizen S.S., reacting to the display of the poster, stated that this situation was nothing other than accustoming people to immorality. “By what right does the HDP, in spite of her videos, which appear on video sharing websites, YouTube chief among them, and in spite of the information about her, display this person’s picture on Ağrı’s busiest avenue?  The HDP must put an end to this immorality immediately.”

Ağrı citizen Süleyman K., who says that he is a stalwart defender of the HDP, emphasized that an effort was being made to corrupt the people of Ağrı, saying that this poster was displayed deliberately. He responded, “I thought that the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the HDP, to whom I have been devoted and for whom I have advocated, were defending our rights and keeping alive our customs and traditions. People who we knew to be conscious, educated, and informed would tell us the true aims of these people, but we would react, saying, ‘You have ulterior motives.’ Now I realize that the HDP, the BDP, with its changing name, and their affiliates are moving towards this goal. This disgraceful poster must be removed at once, or else they are going to lose me and people like me.”


Homosexual AKP supporters displayed a flag in front of Erdoğan

Source: “AKP’li eşcinseller Erdoğan’ın önünde bayrak açtı”, (“Homosexual AKP supporters displayed a flag in front of Erdoğan”) Radikal, 4 August 2014,

The group named “The LGBTI of the AK Party” attended Erdoğan’s Maltepe rally. The group displayed a rainbow flag at the rally site and in front of the podium.


The AK Party’s LGBT partisans attended presidential candidate and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s rally for the first time yesterday in Maltepe and they displayed a flag. The group shared photos from the rally on their AK LGBTI Twitter account with the note, “HOMOSEXUALS STAND BESIDE TAYYİP ERDOĞAN. WE ARE AT RALLIES. GET USED TO IT, WE ARE EVERYWHERE.” One user tweeted the following, “I waved the rainbow flag at the very front. Our Prime Minister probably saw it too.” The photographs received supportive comments but there was a hostile message too, which read, “My brothers in the AK Party, put your foot down against this ridicule.”

Before the rally, representatives from the group spoke to Milliyet’s Damla Yur and explained that they had support from the party administration.

The news story entitled “There are active AK Party members in our group” reads as follows:

The first time we saw the rainbow flag next to AK Party members was during the opening ceremony of the Istanbul-Ankara High Speed Railway where Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was also in attendance. The former Minister of State Responsible for Women and Family Affairs, AK Party deputy Selma Aliye Kavaf had declared once that “[she thought] homosexuality was a disease that needed to be cured.”

The AK Party’s Afyon Deputy Halil Ürün had asked, “What is LGBT? I have no idea. How should I know about it? We are ignorant about these issues.” The goal of the AK Party’s LGBTI members is to change the negative perceptions of right wing and conservative sectors against LGBTI people. The group entitled “The LGBTI of the AK Party,” founded on 30 March, already has 937 followers on social media. Three hundred of these followers are assumed to be AK Party members but only 11 people attended the initial meeting.

Some Active Party Members

One of the founders of the group, Kerem, shared the group’s goals with Milliyet. Kerem explains that they aim to make sure that the heterosexual sectors understand how there are LGBTI individuals who vote for the AK Party. It is for this reason that they decided to get together and become visible. Kerem has previously worked in AK Party organizations and states that they are able to reach people through social media. Kerem says that there are several AK Party members who came out with their sexual orientations:

“There are some very active party members in our group. An AK Party affiliated mayor sent us a congratulatory message when we first founded our group. We are not only in touch with AK Party. We have also received support from the LISTAG (Families of LGBTs in Istanbul) Family Group, Hevi LGBT, the Istanbul LGBTT Solidarity Association and other LGBTI groups.

“I have been hurt”

“As a homosexual person who votes for the AK Party, I have at times been very hurt and saddened by the declarations of the AK Party deputies. Our goal is to change the perceptions of right leaning and conservative sectors that have similar thoughts. Every political party may include people who think negatively of LGBTI individuals and there are LGBTI-phobic people among conservatives too. But this does not mean that all hate crimes are committed by conservatives. It would not be right to associate the hate crimes with a single party.”



Demirtaş: “The existance of LGBTI is perceived as a crime”

Source: Kaos GL, “Demirtaş: LGBTİ’lerin varoluşu suç görülüyor” (“Demirtaş: ‘The existance of LGBTI is perceived as a crime”) Kaos GL, 15 July 2014,

Presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş: “The existence of LGBTI is perceived as a crime. Homophobia and transphobia are being fed. The ‘call for a new life’ is for sexual freedom in society.  

Presidential Candidate and Co-president of HDP (Peoples’ Democracy Party), Selahattin Demirtaş, presented his policy declaration titled, “Call for a New Life,” in a press conference held at the Şişli City Cultural Center.

“The ‘Call for a New Life’ is for sexual freedom in society”

Demirtaş, while criticizing the current policy of repression toward the LGBTI, said that his ‘call for a new life’ was a roadmap for radical democracy and that it called for ‘sexual freedom in society.’

“LGBTI individuals who are targeted, killed, repressed, ostracized because of their sexual orientations and sexual identities are ignored by the system. LGBTIs mere existence is seen as a crime. Homophobia and transphobia are fed. ‘New Life’ calls for equal citizenship rights for all sexual identities to live free and honorable lives in society without fear of discrimination.”

Demirtaş had the following to say on the murders of women:

“At least five women are massacred every day. The male dominated society, which allows no space or freedom for women, continues its femicide. We have always stood up against every kind of violence and discrimination against women. Our stance will continue. ‘New Life’ can only organize with the leadership of women. A society can only be as free as their women are.”


LGBTI comment from İhsanoğlu: Society has Sensitivities!

Source: “İhsanoğlu’ndan LGBTİ yorumu: Toplumun hassasiyetleri var!” (“LGBTI comment from İhsanoğlu: Society has Sensitivities!”), 28 July 2014,

Presidential Candidate Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu said, “Our society is a conservative one. Society has sensitivities” regarding LGBTI rights.

Presidential Candidate Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu spoke with Turkish daily newspaper Hürriyet’s Cansu Çamlıbel and avoided answering questions regarding homophobia and LGBTI rights. İhsanoğlu talked about “society’s sensitivities” and said “Our society is a conservative one. We have to think about the sensitivities of a conservative society.”

İhsanoğlu has no projects, promises or statements on LGBTI people killed because of “the sensitivities of a conservative society” or hate crimes.

İhsanoğlu had previously argued that homophobia is not a universal issue and had stayed away from approaches that include LGBTI rights within universal human rights. The relevant parts of the interview are below:

Your statement in an interview with Al Jazeera where you said “Homophobia is not a universal issue” remain in the archives. What is your position on LGBTI people’s rights and place in society?

Of course this is a very sensitive issue. On the one hand there is the human rights aspect on the inclusion of these people in society and on the other hand there are society’s sensitivities. We must think about this within these two parameters.

How do we find that balance? What is the formula to get over society’s homophobia?

What is homophobia?

We can say that it is a concept that summarizes extreme attitudes of denial and exclusion of LGBTI people.

We should consider these sensitivities. It would not be correct to approach one side heavily. And there is this: our society is a conservative one. We have to think about the sensitivities of a conservative society. We have to be respectful of the values of 76 million people in Turkey. There are people who behave like this and who defend their rights.

So you see the free expression of sexual orientation as a right, correct?

There is a majority that is against this as well. It is not possible for me to answer this when I am trying to make it to the airport.