Sedef Çakmak

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

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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).  

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.

sedef

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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