Sedef Çakmak

Bianet: Sedef Çakmak is elected as the Chair of Rainbow Rose

LGBTI activist and Beşiktaş Alderwoman Sedef Çakmak is elected as Chair of the Executive Board of Rainbow Rose, the LGBTI network of Europe’s social democrat and socialist parties.

Source: “Sedef Çakmak is elected as the Chair of Rainbow Rose” (“Sedef Çakmak, Rainbow Rose Başkanı Seçildi”), bianet, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/191068-sedef-cakmak-rainbow-rose-baskani-secildi, October 30, 2017.

Rainbow Rose, a network comprised of the LGBTI platforms established within the European social democrat and socialist parties, had its general assembly in Stockholm, Sweden.

The assembly meeting was held between October 27-29, and LGBTI activists Elif Avcı of Şişli Municipality’s Equality Unit and Beşiktaş Alderwoman Sedef Çakmak participated in the assembly representing the Republican People’s Party (CHP) of Turkey.

Rainbow Rose has been fighting for LGBTI rights since 2006 as a part of PES (Party of European Socialists), of which CHP is also a member. Çakmak was elected as the Chair of the Executive Board of Rainbow Rose.

“Alliance with other LGBTI organizations strengthens us”

Speaking to Yıldız Tar of Kaos GL Çakmak stated:

“In these days when Turkey is getting more and more authoritarian and when different voices are sought to be silenced, we recognize how strengthening it is for people living in Turkey to be in solidarity with other LGBTI organizations around the world. Aside from this, LGBTI struggles for rights do not only produce policies based on sexual orientation and gender identity but also on refugees, union rights, gender equality, rule of law, areas which have an impact on all sectors of society. In today’s world where the global flow of information has accelerated, I believe it would be lacking to make policies detached from the rest of the world.”

“Both as a Turkish citizen and a local politician who is an LGBTI activist, I hope that the fact that I was chosen as the Chair of the Executive Board of Rainbow Rose will play a part in transcending the increasing bias against our country abroad due to the malpractices of the government which undermine democracy.”

Çakmak was a CHP candidate in the 2014 local elections and has been an alderwoman in Beşiktaş Municipality since then. Çakmak is the first openly homosexual politician in Turkey.

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:

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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 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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LGBTI Activist Sedef Çakmak is now a Municipal Assembly Member

Beşiktaş Municipality Mayor’s Advisor Sedef Çakmak has risen from the substitute position of assembly member to the position of assembly member. Çakmak is the first person to be elected to public office with her open LGBTI identity in Turkey. Çakmak received her mandate on 2 March 2015.

Sedef Çakmak, who ran in the 2014 local elections for membership to the Republican People Party’s Beşiktaş Municipal Assembly with her open lesbian identity and who was elected as an assembly member substitute, has risen to the post of assembly member. Çakmak has been actively working in the Beşiktaş Municipality since the elections and has been an advisır to the mayor on policies and services for LGBTIs.

sedef çakmak

Sedef Çakmak is a graduate of Galatasaray University with a BA in Sociology. She has been a part of the LGBTI rights movement for the past 10 years and has served as Board President in the Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (SPoD LGBTI) between 2011 and 2013. Çakmak is the first and only LGBTI individual to be elected in Turkey. Çakmak received her mandate today. After the announcement of her membership in the Municipal Assembly, Çakmak explained the post’s importance: “Coming to such a position without having to hide your identity has, without doubt, an empowering effect in a country where people have to hide their identity from their closest for fear of oppression, violence, and exclusion and where LGBTIs face threats, blackmail, mobbing, and termination of employment once their identities are revealed. Policies and services in local administration for LGBTIs within the borders of the Beşiktaş Municipality will serve as an important starting point for developing democracy from the local for all social groups in Turkey.”

LGBTIs are everywhere!

As the general elections approach, SPoD LGBTI has started their “In school, at work, in the parliament: LGBTIs are everywhere!” campaign to encourage other LGBTIs to be active in politics. SPoD LGBTI’s Politics School started on Saturday, 28 February in Istanbul. The Politics School aims to empower LGBTIs in the political arena and make the LGBTI rights movement more visible in the 2015 general elections. The School will continue until 4 March.

In the 2014 local elections, 5 participants of the Politics School ran for different parties’ municipal assemblies with their open gay and trans identities. SPoD’s LGBTI-Friendly Municipality Protocol, to remind local administrations their responsibilities for LGBTI rights, was signed by 40 mayoral candidates from HDP, BDP, CHP, TKP, and DSP. Among the signatories were 5 metropolitan municipality mayoral candidates. Since the elections, SPoD has been monitoring developments in Istanbul, Izmir, Mersin, Adana, and Diyarbakır.

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

G: 535 740 84 98 M: 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).  

In school, at work, in the parliament: LGBTIs are everywhere!

LGBTIs have started a campaign called “In school, at work, in the parliament” leading up to the general elections. The details of the campaign designed for the active participation of LGBTIs in decision- and policy-making processes were shared at a press meeting on Tuesday, 24 February 2015.

Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (SPoD LGBTI) believes LGBTIs will attain equal access to education, employment, housing, and health services when they are active politically. Therefore, SPoD LGBTI has started a campaign called “In school, at work, in the parliament: LGBTIs are everywhere! for the upcoming general elections. The details of the campaign designed for the active participation of LGBTIs in decision- and policy-making processes were shared at a press meeting on Tuesday, 24 February 2015.

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You don’t have rights if you are not present!

SPoD LGBTI Board Member Sedef Çakmak said they started this campaign to make the human rights violations LGBTIs face more visible and to realize the dream of a Turkey where no one faces pressure for their identities. Çakmak stated that they started off with the thought “you don’t have rights if you are not present!” Çakmak emphasized that LGBTIs will be able to talk more easily about their economic, social, and legal problems in an environment that is cleared of prejudices. Çakmak said, “In Turkey, individuals’ political participation is confined to “voting”. But political participation is all efforts to directly affect the decisions of decision-makers. SPoD LGBTI consciously uses all the tools of political participation such as election monitoring, face to face meetings with decision-makers, and political campaigns to emphasize LGBTI problems. But there is one method that is the most effective and that is the thought that “you don’t have rights if you are not present.” The existence of individuals who join politics without hiding their LGBTI identities leads to a faster decrease in prejudices against LGBTIs. As we have seen in the minutes of the New Constitution drafting process, lawmakers are not purified of prejudices against LGBTIs that exist in society and steps are not being taken to protect the human rights of LGBTIs who face violence, pressure, and exclusion because of these biases. We must actively participate in politics with our LGBTI identities in order to show decision-makers that being LGBTI is not something that needs to be hidden, shunned, treated or eliminated, to pass laws for LGBTIs, and to repair the negative associations in society. Only in this way can we ensure a truly participatory democracy in society, in the parliament, and in political parties.”

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Free Health Support for Trans Guesthouse from Beşiktaş Municipality

Taking the lead, the Beşiktaş Municipality [in Istanbul] has begun offering free health service support to the Trans Guesthouse. As part of the support, trans women lodging at the guesthouse underwent a medical check-up on 30 January.

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Beşiktaş Belediyesi’nden Trans Misafirhanesi’ne ücretsiz sağlık desteği” (“Free Health Support for Trans Guesthouse from Beşiktaş Municipality”), KaosGL.org, 30 January 2015, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18608

Additional support has come from the Beşiktaş Municipality for the Trans Guesthouse, which was opened by Istanbul LGBTI for trans women who are elderly or find themselves in difficult circumstances, and which in recent days has been expanded with the contribution of Trans Angels. [A solidarity group across Turkey] As part of the right to social service and health, the Beşiktaş Municipality began to offer free and anonymous health service to trans women lodging at the guesthouse. The first of the health screenings scheduled to be conducted periodically each month took place today. Municipal health personnel came to the guesthouse and gave the trans women medical check-ups. misafirhanesaglik Sedef Çakmak: Right to health and shelter are two key issues SPoD LGBTI activist Sedef Çakmak, one of the Beşiktaş Municipality mayoral consultants personally overseeing the health screening, made a statement about her work to KaosGL.org. Noting that as the Beşiktaş Municipality they would continue to support LGBTI people’s fight for equal citizenship, Çakmak continued her remarks as follows: “Health and shelter are one of the two most important issues for the LGBTI movement as well. In spite of the fact that Tarlabaşı is not within the borders of the Beşiktaş Municipality, the LGBTI issue inevitably encompasses all Istanbul. Since we have made progress on the way to becoming an LGBTI-friendly municipality, we will try to deliver health services to our friends who have needs in this area.” (more…)

No one can kick us out of the municipality at this point

Sedef Çakmak, advisor to the mayor of Beşiktaş, and Boysan Yakar, advisor to the mayor of Şişli, are the first openly gay people to advance to these positions. Yakar made news when he was physically assaulted at the municipal building: “No one can kick us, LGBTI individuals, out of the municipality at this point.”

Source: Aydil Durgun, “Bu saatten sonra kimse bizi belediyeden atamaz” (“No one can kick us out of the municipality at this point”). Milliyet.com.tr, 17 January 2015, http://www.milliyet.com.tr/-bu-saatten-sonra-kimse-bizi/pazar/haberdetay/18.01.2015/2000113/default.htm

Sedef Çakmak and Boysan Yakar have been involved in the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex) struggle for years. I crossed paths with them for the first time before the Pride March in 2013. In the same year, I met with Boysan again; this time through the LGBTI Political Representation and Participation Platform that they launched before the local elections. In the elections, they had already started seeing the benefits of the platform. Boysan was a candidate for nomination as a city councilor for the district of Şişli, and Sedef, for Beşiktaş. Boysan made it to the reserve list and Sedef seemed to have made it all the way to the council, but it fell through, and she currently remains as the first reserve candidate. Throughout this lengthy process, Hayri İnönü, the mayor of Şişli, and Murat Hazinedar, the mayor of Beşiktaş, must have been so pleased with their work that they appointed them as their advisors.

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Boysan and Sedef now hold the highest public office held by openly gay individuals in Turkey. This is a big achievement in a country like Turkey, and as they emphasize strongly, it is the result of a long fight for which they made big sacrifices.

I met with Boysan and Sedef to discuss what they have been doing since they assumed office. Boysan also talked for the first time about the physical assault he experienced at the municipal building.

It is clear why you would like to be in the political arena. But why did municipal governments and parties want to reach out to the LGBTI movement? Why now and not before?

Sedef Çakmak: Honestly, I believe that it has to do with our determination. We had been thinking genuinely that our party had to adopt LGBTI politics. To speak about CHP in particular, there have been a number of MPs in the recent past who advocated for LGBTI rights. They have paved the way for us. The party was able to think positively about LGBTI candidates thanks to the LGBTI discussions they introduced into the party’s agenda.

Boysan Yakar: There is something that both of us experienced. After our membership to the party went through, they told us about the displeasure of not having had dealt with this subject before.

Sedef Ç.: They said, “We should have come to you, not you to us.”

Boysan Y.: This is how politics works in Turkey: if you’re not there, your rights are not there either.

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Invitation from the USA for LGBTI Activist and politician Sedef Çakmak

SPoD LGBTI (Social Policy, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association) activist and Beşiktaş Mayoral Advisor Sedef Çakmak will attend two events in the USA to describe her involvement in politics as an openly gay activist and politician.

Source: “ABD’den LGBTİ aktivisti ve siyasetçi Sedef Çakmak’a davet”, (“Invitation from the USA for LGBTI Activist and politician Sedef Çakmak”), diken.com.tr, 7 December 2014, http://www.diken.com.tr/abdden-lgbti-aktivisti-ve-siyasetci-sedef-cakmaka-davet/

Sedef Çakmak is a board member at SPoD LGBTI. At the same time, she is the advisor to Beşiktaş Mayor Murat Hazinedar. She embarked on her political career as an openly bisexual woman. In the USA, she will recount her political activities as well as her experience in the local elections and the strategies that she believes LGBTI individuals must adopt in the future.

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Çakmak will first attend a panel at the International LGBT Leadership Conference organized by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute in Washington DC between 4-7 December. She will deliver a talk as an LBT (lesbian, bisexual, trans) politician and in her talk she will focus on the process of taking part in politics in Turkey, her political campaign, media portrayals of her as a gay politician and her opinions in regard to the future state of LBT women politicians.

Gay and trans women on the path to parliament

On Saturday (December 6th), Sedef Çakmak will deliver a talk at a panel entitled “Women Out to Win: The Path to Parliament” at the same conference.

On the World Human Rights Day, she will talk about the LGBTI movement in Turkey

During this visit to the USA, Sedef Çakmak is also scheduled to attend an event in New York.

On December 10th, Çakmak will talk about the LGBTI movement and organizations in Turkey at an event organized by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) within the framework of the World Human Rights Day.

Who is Sedef Çakmak?

During the local elections that took place in March 2014, Sedef Çakmak ran a campaign as a council candidate for the CHP (Republican People’s Party) in Beşiktaş. At the end of the elections, she was elected first substitute council member. Mayor Murat Hazinedar chose Çakmak to be his advisor. Çakmak has been a member of the LGBTI movement since her college days and she has been advocating for LGBTI political demands in her work with the municipality of Beşiktaş. If she succeeds in moving from the substitute list to the main list in council membership, she will become the first politician in Turkey elected to office as an openly LGBTI individual. At the moment, Çakmak continues to serve as a board member for SPoD LGBTI, an association that focuses on social and economic rights for LGBTI people.

Besiktas Municipality to implement LGBTI training for staff

Source: Yıldız Tar, “Beşiktaş Belediyesi personeline dönük LGBTİ eğitimi”, (“Besiktas Municipality to implement LGBTI training for staff”), kaosGL.org, 5 December 2014, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18138

Besiktas Municipality’s Advisor to the Mayor Sedef Cakmak participated in the European Commission’s seminar on local administrations and LGBTI rights. Cakmak told kaosGL.org that the Municipality will cooperate with SPoD LGBTI association to implement trainings on LGBTI rights and discrimination for municipality staff.

The European Commission organized a seminar on gender equality and LGBTI rights in local administrations during 24-26 November 2014. Local administration representatives from Turkey and Eastern Europe shared their experiences. The European Union’s policies and programs on LGBTI rights and non-discrimination were presented to the participants.

Participants from Turkey were the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Bursa Nilufer Municipality and Sakarya Municipality as well as the Besiktas Municipality which stands out with its LGBTI work. On behalf of the Besiktas Municipality, Sedef Cakmak, Advisor to Mayor Murat Hazinedar and a SPoD LGBTI activist, participated in the seminar.

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Supreme Election Committee: LGBTI Activist Çakmak Not Elected to the Beşiktaş Municipality Council

Source: Yıldız Tar, “YSK: LGBTİ Aktivisti Çakmak Beşiktaş’ta Meclis’e Giremedi,” (“Supreme Election Committee: LGBTI Activist Çakmak Not Elected to the Beşiktaş Municipality Council,”) kaosGL.org, 03 April 2014,  http://www.kaosgl.com/sayfa.php?id=16232

According to the Supreme Election Committee’s official results, LGBTI activist Sedef Çakmak was not elected to the municipality council in Beşiktaş.

The Supreme Election Committee (YSK) started to release the official results of the local elections. According to the official results, none of the LGBTI activists who were candidates in the local elections won membership to the municipality council.

Though the unofficial results had revealed that Sedef Çakmak won membership to the Beşiktaş Municipality Council, she had been left outside of the council. She was in the 27th position and 26 candidates from the Republican People’s Party won seats in the Beşiktaş council.

The result that Çakmak had won a seat in the council was reported to be due to miscalculations. This means that none of the LGBTI candidates entered councils.

Who were the LGBTI candidates?

Can Çavuşoğlu had declared his mayoral candidacy for Giresun’s Bulancak municipality. He then withdrew his candidacy.

Mersin 7 Colors LGBT member Tuna Şahin was a candidate for the Yenişehir Municipality Council from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). BDP did not pass the election threshold in Yenişehir.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) lists included SPoD LGBT’s Sedef Çakmak at the 27th position in Beşiktaş and Çelik Özdemir at the 12th position in Beyoğlu. CHP placed 26 members in Beşiktaş and 10 members in Beyoğlu Municipality Councils. Therefore, neither of the candidates were elected.

Boysan Yakar, candidate in Şişli, was not shown as a candidate by the CHP and was put on the substitute list. Öykü Evren Özen was shown as a candidate for the CHP in Bursa Osmangazi. She was not elected either. Mersin Newspaper editor and LGBTI activist Baki Uguz was in the 2nd position for the Democratic Left Party (DSP) in Mezitli Municipality Council. DSP did not pass the election threshold.

5 LGBTI activists were candidates for municipality councils from the People’s Democratic Party (HDP). Trans activist Şevval Kılıç was in the 2nd position for Istanbul’s Şişli council, Hevi LGBTI trans activist Asya Elmas was in the 2nd position for Istanbul’s Kadıköy council, Istanbul LGBTT Association member Ebru Kırancı was in the 4th position for Istanbul’s Beyoğlu council, and trans activist Niler Albayrak, previously subjected to attacks in the Avcılar-Meis Housing Complex was in the 2nd position for Istanbul’s Avcılar council.

Pink Life LGBTT Association’s Abdülhalim Karaosmanoğlu was a candidate for Ankara’s Çankaya municipality council for the HDP. HDP could not pass the election threshold in these five places and none of the activists won seats in the councils.

Scarlett Rainbow activist Tunca Özlen was a candidate for Ankara’s Çankaya municipality council from the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP). TKP did not pass the election threshold.