Sezen Yalçın

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).

The HDP Istanbul candidates sign the LGBTI Rights Pledge

SPoD LGBTI is circulating an LGBTI Rights Pledge, part of the “LGBTI in the Parliament” campaign, for signatures in the run-up to the June 7th parliamentary elections in Turkey. The first signatories to the Pledge are HDP’s women candidates who proclaimed “We are the Rainbow.”

In the run-up to the parliamentary elections to be held on June 7th, the Istanbul based LGBTI advocacy group SPoD (Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association) is circulating the LGBTI Rights Pledge to be signed by parliamentary candidates. Representatives of SPoD LGBTI drafted the LGBTI Rights Pledge as part of their “LGBTI in the Parliament” campaign. The campaign was started in February in order to demand the active inclusion of LGBTI individuals in decision and policy making processes. SPoD representatives visited the HDP [People’s Democracy Party], whose female candidates for Istanbul signed the Pledge. The candidates had previously included a section in their election manifesto called “We are the Rainbow.”

Are you ready to defend LGBTI rights?

The participants of the meeting, which was held in the HDP Istanbul Province Building, included Istanbul 2nd District parliamentary candidates Filiz Kerestecioğlu, Gülsüm Ağaoğlu, İnciser Alptekin, Elif Sırlıoğlu, Istanbul 3rd District parliamentary candidates Hülya İmak and Elif Bulut as well as  representatives from SPoD.

SPoD LGBTI Political Representation Field Coordinator Sezen Yalçın underlined the importance of the section “We are the Rainbow” in the HDP’s election manifesto for the LGBTI and asked the parliamentary candidates: “Are you ready to defend the LGBTI rights?” Lawyer Filiz Kerestecioğlu, the HDP candidate from the 2nd District, read out loud the LGBTI Rights Pledge and said: “We became candidates in order to carry the voices of the street and their struggles into the parliament.”

Gülsüm Ağaoğlu described the HDP election manifesto as a poem of human rights rather than a mere promise, and stated that, as a party open to all the colors of the rainbow, it is their goal to implement the demands outlined in the Pledge. Imak said, “When ‘we’ are in the parliament, you will be there as well. We are not your representatives, but are the voices of all those who have been victimized.” Bulut, Alptekin and Sırlıoğlu signed the Pledge and added that it is their wish to see a political environment where everyone can coexists while enjoying their rights and their identities without the need for such a pledge.

SPoD’s eyes are on the parliamentary representatives

SPoD LGBTI calls on the parliamentary candidates to embrace a political position that guarantees the LGBTI rights and freedoms and will share with the public the names of  parliamentary candidates who sign the pledge. If the candidates get elected in the upcoming parliamentary election, SPoD will hold them accountable to their pledge through monitoring their work in the new legislative period.

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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

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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).  

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).  

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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SPoD and Representatives of the LGBT Political Representation and Participation Platform Visited the CHP Leader

Source: “SPoD ve LGBT Siyasi Temsil ve Katılım Platformu Temsilcileri CHP Genel Başkanını Ziyaret Etti,” (SPoD and Representatives of the LGBT Political Representation and Participation Platform Visited the CHP Leader,”) 21 November 2013, http://www.SPoD.org.tr/turkce/SPoD-lgbt-ve-lgbt-siyasi-temsil-ve-katilim-platformu-temsilcileri-chp-genel-baskani-kemal-kilicdaroglunu-ziyaret-etti/

Following the Local Administrations Political School for LGBTs that ran between 11 and 17 November 2013, the Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (SPoD) continue their work to increase the political participation of LGBTs and visit political parties. Following the meetings with the politicians of the Democratic Party of the People (HDP) in the HDP extraordinary congress in October, the SPoD and the representatives of LGBT Political Representation and Participation Platform met with the Republican People’s Party (CHP).

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“Hopefully, one day, we will have a gay prime minister”

Source: Aydil Durgun, “Umarım bir gün eşcinsel bir başbakanımız olacak,” (“Hopefully, one day, we will have a gay prime minister,”) Milliyet, 20 October 2013, http://www.milliyet.com.tr/-umarim-bir-gun-escinsel-bir/pazar/haberdetay/20.10.2013/1779011/default.htm

Asya Özgür from the newly founded LGBT Political Representation and Participation Platform (LGBT Siyasi Temsil ve Katılım Platformu): “We want to see an LGBT who is out in the parliament. Hopefully, one day, we will have a gay prime minister.”

As the local elections approach, mayoral and council candidates are finalizing their preparations and of course Istanbul is in the news. Several LGBT organizations and associations in Istanbul explained, “We decided that this can not happen without us!” and founded the LGBT Political Representation and Participation Platform. We heard the details about the platform from its members Sezen Yalçın, Boysan Yakar, Asya Özgür and Deniz Şapka.

How did this platform emerge?

Sezen Yalçın: Right after Gezi, we came together and talked about what we wanted to do; it emerged from that. The LGBT movement has always been involved in the political sphere. There was a great deal of interest in our first meeting. This excited all of us and we kept organizing the meetings. We thought about what we could do to make it possible for one of us to run as a candidate and what we would demand from the locals. After we saw the local reaction at Gezi, we thought we can make our voices heard.

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