Sedef Çakmak

KaosGL: “Sedef Çakmak: The rainbow flag at the March for Justice gives us hope”

The leader of the main opposition party CHP in Turkey led a 25-day, 450 km “March for Justice” from the country’s capital to Istanbul to protest the imprisonment of a party lawmaker. The march, joined by tens of thousands, soon grew to a wider anti-government protest demanding justice. The CHP Beşiktaş Municipality Alderwoman Sedef Çakmak, the first lesbian to be elected in Turkey, evaluated the March for Justice from the perspective of the LGBTI Movement for KaosGL.Org.

Source: Aslı Alpar, “Sedef Çakmak: Adalet Yürüyüşü’ndeki gökkuşağı bayrağı umut veriyor,” KaosGL, July 10, 2017 http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=24168

The March for Justice led by CHP Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu set off on June 15 from Ankara Güvenpark and finished with the Justice Meeting on July 9 in Istanbul. CHP Beşiktaş Municipality Alderwoman Sedef Çakmak evaluated the 24-day long Justice March from the perspective of the LGBTI movement for KaosGL.org. Çakmak suggests that both the march and the increasing role of LGBTIs in policy-making within CHP is promising.

“LGBTI+s have been struggling for justice for years”

The March for Justice, led by CHP Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu brought together people from all walks of life, who believe in the rule of law and who believe that the independence of the judiciary is threatened.

The demands articulated by Kılıçdaroğlu during the rally yesterday show that the search for justice is also a search for democracy. This, in turn, reflects the effort to bring together the masses which it is believed can never stand together. Yet democracy is an issue which cannot be left to the hands of the politicians. At this critical point in this country, all of us need to do our share for democracy and liberties. The best case in hand is perhaps LGBTI+s present in every sector of society. They have been continuing this struggle merely with their existence for years.

Since 2009, thanks to the selfless work of the LGBTI+ movement and the individual efforts of some of the MPs, the LGBTI+ individuals’ search for justice and equality has come to be voiced more and more within the CHP. Our candidacy for city council for CHP during 2014 local elections and afterwards our work in municipalities quickly led to awareness within the party. As such, the LGBTI+ movement emerged as a political actor during the 2015 general elections.

“There were people carrying the rainbow flag on their bags at the March for Justice against the government’s hunt for rainbows after banning Istiklal Avenue for Pride Walk”

The CHP’s increasing advocacy against the discrimination, pressure and inequality LGBTI+ individuals are subjected to is of course promising, but this can not be a one way relationship. As citizens, we need to be more present in the political parties as well as to continue articulating our rights. There were people carrying the rainbow flag on their bags and waving their rainbow umbrellas freely at the Justice March against the government’s hunt for rainbows after banning İstiklal for Pride Walk.

“It gives me hope that the CHP gives more place to LGBTI+ individuals”

Surely there are criticisms and prejudices against CHP, but the criticism should not overshadow the fact that there are many who labor to bring the party to a more inclusive position. In that regard, millions who come together with the demand for justice which already surpassed the CHP as well as the CHP giving more place to LGBTI+ individiuals as a social democratic opposition party give me hope. And I believe that now we need hope more than ever.

LGBTI activists meet for equality in municipalities

LGBTI activists from six cities met within the scope of SPoD’s Municipal Equality Index project, and discussed LGBTI politics in local administration.

Source: Umut Güven, “LGBTİ aktivistleri belediyelerde eşitlik için buluştu,” kaosGL.org, 23 January 2017, http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=22885

The activist stakeholders’ meeting within the scope of SPoD’s Municipal Equality Index project took place on Jan. 21 in Istanbul.

LGBTI organizations from six different cities met to discuss current municipal policies and goals.

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Aim: Create visibility for municipal work

The project aims to make visible the work of LGBTI-friendly municipalities through the index, and encourage municipalities to be LGBTI-friendly in the long term. The advisory committee for the project met in December 2016.

The meeting began with a presentation by SPoD’s Academic Coordinator Neyir Zerey on the NGO’s activities in political representation and LGBTIs’ demands in Turkey.

The meeting continued with activists sharing experiences on relations with local administrations and the project they’d like establish.

Open Society Foundation’s Program Coordinator Didem Tekeli said the foundation is open to applications on realizing such local projects and may offer grants.

“Education within municipalities is a must”

The meeting ended with a discussion on index criteria for the project.

Besiktas Municipality Assembly Member Sedef Çakmak emphasized the importance of education within the municipal institution and said:

“Some municipalities may be hesitant to work on the LGBTI field. It would be incorrect to label this hesitancy as homophobia or transphobia. In order to combat this attitude that is rooted in a lack of information, education within the municipal institution is crucial.”

SPoD activists met with municipality employees the following day.

 

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.

For your inquiries regarding the news and interviews:

MEHTAP DOĞAN
Media Partner Communication Consultancy
Media Director
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).

LGBTI Municipal Member Sedef Çakmak on Hate Speech in the Media

Beşiktaş Municipal Assembly member from CHP and human rights and LGBT activist Sedef Çakmak has evaluated hate speech in media for us. During the municipality elections, Çakmak became a target of hate speech in various media outlets as an openly gay woman. We’ve discussed the difficulties she has faced during the electoral process and in her personal life.

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Lesbian Municipal Assembly Member Sedef Çakmak and Mayor Murat Hazinedar on LGBTI Rights and Politics

Sedef Çakmak (33) is the first municipal assembly member in Turkey who has disclosed her lesbian identity. She graduated from Galatasaray University, Faculty of Sociology. She worked at Lambda Istanbul (LGBTI Solidarity Association) and she took part in the establishment of SPoD (Social Policy, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association). Following the local elections in 2014, she started to act as consultant for the Mayor of Beşiktaş, Murat Hazinedar, and last Monday she was elected as a municipal assembly member. We discussed her battle for LGBTI individuals’ rights in Turkish politics with Sedef Çakmak and Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) LGBTI expansion with Murat Hazinedar.

Source: Elvan Yarma, “Türkiye’de LGBTİ hakları değil, kadın hakları geriliyor” (“It is the women’s rights that regress in Turkey, not LGBTI rights”), Hurriyet, 10 March 2015, http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/28414054.asp?

When did you realise that you are lesbian?

Coming out to myself happened when I joined Lambda Istanbul in 2004. I was studying sociology and I joined in with a sociological curiosity concerning gay and trans individuals’ way of living. Then, I started thinking about this and I discovered myself.

Could you tell your family when you realised it?

Of course not! But, I told my family that I had been in an association defending gay and trans individuals’ rights since 2004. At first they had a hard time accepting it. Following the moment a member of the parliament from CHP mentioned LGBTI rights, my mother had an enlightening experience. Since then, she has openly supported me.

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What kind of difficulties have you experienced as a lesbian? More precisely, have you experienced any difficulties?

I could not find a job for 6 years. It was stated in my CV that I worked at Lambda Istanbul. They said “Oh, well, we will call you at a later time”. One day, I revised and censored my CV. They reverted back instantly by saying “You are the exact person that we are looking for”. When I told them in the interview that I was lesbian, again the same response: “We will call you”.

Given that a politician does not feel the necessity to say “I am heterosexual” when he/she enters politics, why do you feel the need to disclose that you are lesbian?

Just as politicians state their Alevi, female or other oppressed identities, it is the same for being an LGBTI individual. However, as there are people who hide their gender identities in politics, we do not consider it strange when a politician says that they are Alevi but we are baffled when they say they are gay.

Will we be able to see others disclose that they are LGBTI individuals in other municipalities in Turkey?

There are already others. We have friends who are candidates for nomination for parliament. We have a friend, Boysan [Yakar], who is openly gay and works as an advisor to the mayor of the Şişli Municipality.

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CHP’s Murat Karayalçın: “Number of parliamentarians supporting LGBTI rights should increase”

SPoD LGBTI’s “In school, at work, in the parliament: LGBTIs are everywhere” campaign began with the thought “You don’t have rights if you are not present!” and representatives visited the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Istanbul President Murat Karayalçın following their visit to the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) Istanbul Co-Spokesperson Ayşe Erdem. Visits to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Justice and Development Party (AKP), etc are to follow.  

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Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (SPoD LGBTI) has started visiting political parties to inform them of their “In school, at work, in the parliament: LGBTIs are everywhere!” campaign which aims to make LGBTI rights visible in the general elections. SPoD LGBTI’s first visit was to the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) where they met with Istanbul Co-Spokesperson Ayşe Erdem. Following this visit, they met the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Istanbul President Murat Karayalçın.

LGBTI activist Sedef Çakmak who ran in the 2014 local elections for membership in the CHP’s Beşiktaş Municipality Assembly with her lesbian identity and who was recently seated in the assembly talked about how empowering it is to participate in politics without having to hide your identity. She told Karayalçın, “We started the LGBTI in the Parliament campaign with the thought that you don’t have rights if you are not present. All decision-makers need to understand that being LGBTI is not something that needs to be hidden, shamed, treated, or annihilated. We need to actively participate in politics with our open LGBTI identities in order to dispel the negative outlook existing in society and to put forth laws for LGBTI. Just the existence of individuals who are in politics without hiding their identity will result in a quick reduction of prejudices. Only in this way, a real participatory democracy will bloom in society, in the parliament, and in political parties.

SPoD LGBTI representatives aim to start a structure in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey similar to the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBTI Rights. They emphasized the importance of cooperation among CHP parliamentarians who support LGBTI rights with parliamentarians from different parties. The representatives said they would like CHP’s candidates for parliament to sign the “LGBTI Rights Agreements” and asked for Karayalçın’s support to meet candidates for parliament from Istanbul.

Murat Karayalçın pointed to the importance of the Motion to Investigate LGBTI Problems, which was signed by many CHP parliamentarians. He emphasized the necessity of an increase in parliamentarians who support LGBTI rights. Referring to the “purple flag” project introduced by CHP’s Vice President Veli Ağbaba that awards municipalities which fulifll gender equality criteria, Karayalçın said the practice should also include LGBTI equality. He said, “The speeches of CHP parliamentarians who rally for LGBTIs also support us. We wish for an increase in the number of parliamentarians who openly support our LGBTI friends.

The Political Representation Coordinator Sezen Yalçın of SPoD LGBTI, which has been working on rights violations against LGBTI since 2011, informed Karayalçın of the LGBTI in the Parliament campaign. She said they aim to strengthen the equality and freedom movement through political representation and participation for LGBTIs who are not recognized as equal citizens and whose rights to life, employment, housing, health care, and education are ignored. Yalçın talked about their work on social policy for LGBTIs equal citizenship, to ensure fundamental rights and to combat discrimination. She emphasized the importance of political advocacy for rights movements. Yalçın talked about their annual Politics School which brings together activists, politicians, and academics since 2012. Yalçın also stressed that they maintain an equal distance to all political parties and that the campaign would run independent from parties.

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

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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).  

LGBTI activist candidate for nomination from HDP: Peace must also be made with the LGBTI in the Resolution Process

LGBTI activist Barış Sulu became a candidate for nomination from the HDP last week in Eskişehir for the general elections. Sulu spoke with kaosGL.org about the political representation of LGBTI people and the [Kurdish peace] resolution process.

Source: Omer Akpinar, “LGBTİ aktivisti HDP’den aday adayı: Çözüm sürecinde LGBTİ’lerle de barışılması gerekiyor” (“LGBTI activist candidate for nomination from HDP: Peace must also be made with the LGBTI in the Resolution Process[1]”), Kaos GL, 2 March 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18855

How did you decide to run for the June 7th general elections?

First of all, I am somebody who thinks that the LGBTI people need to be interested/involved in politics. Boysan Yakar, Sedef Çakmak, and Tuna Şahin’s assuming of municipal positions in the aftermath of local elections made me more hopeful. I thought another step was now needed. Therefore in order for different things to be talked about, subjects must articulate themselves.

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