LGBTIs are not alone in this struggle

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The LGBTI Rights Pledge, which the Social Policies, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Studies Association (SPoD) has opened for signatures by candidates running for parliament membership on the June 7 general elections, has received 40 signatures. Candidates such as Şafak Pavey, Musa Çam, and Deva Özenen declared that LGBTIs are not alone in this struggle.


On IDAHOT, LGBTI individuals face countless problems in Turkey

May 17th, the day homosexuality was removed from the classification “illness”, has come to be celebrated for the last 11 years as the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. Many years have passed since the Declaration of Montreal on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Human Rights, which was published following the International Conference on LGBT Human Rights, has called for all nations to recognize this date. Yet, the stigmatization of and discrimination against LGBTIs continue to this day.

This Sunday, May 17th marks the 11th year of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), which was established in order to fight against homophobia and transphobia, to raise the public’s awareness about LGBTIs, to draw attention to rights violations and discrimination, and have their voices be heard. Following the removal of homosexuality from the classification of “illness” by the World Health Organization on May 17th, 1990, and published after the International Conference on LGBT Human Rights, which was organized by the UN, the Declaration of Montreal called for all nations to recognize that date and the wide array of rights and freedoms that ought to be secured. Until now, 130 nations did so formally. Yet, unfortunately, even though many years have passed since then, the stigmatization of and discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans continue.

In Turkey, as in many other regions of the world, prejudice and discrimination not only cause LGBTIs to be excluded from health programs and limit their access to health services but also deprive them of the most basic human rights. Furthermore, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity also show themselves in the forms of violence and hate murders. While numerous LGBTIs are massacred in hate murders, many others are forced into making their voices heard through suicide. In the meantime, the government, which refuses to recognize the very reality of LGBTIs, fails to take any legal precautions to protect LGBTIs whom it deprives of basic human rights.

SPoD (Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association) has began its journey with the goal of drawing attention to the discrimination against LGBTIs, of showing that gays, lesbians, bisexuals, trans, and intersex are neither alone nor in the wrong, and of producing stronger solutions to their problems. In preparation of May 17th, the day to protest and struggle against all physical, moral, or symbolic violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, SPoD has compiled the following 24 problems commonly experienced by LGBTIs.

  1. LGBTIs’ existence is defined through concepts such as illness, perversion, sin, immorality, and other terms of negativity and negation. This situation, in turn, pushes LGBTIs into hiding their identities, into acting as that which they are not, into depression, and into thoughts of suicide. Yet, the medical institution defines homosexuality not as an illness but as an expression of human sexual diversity.
  2. Unrecognized and unprotected by the Constitution’s article on equality [Article 10], which fails to specify them by name, cannot benefit from social and economic rights afford to “all citizens.”[1]
  3. Their most basic rights, such as the right to life, to labor, to housing, to health, and to education, are disregarded.
  4. The current government and the pro-government media publicize them to be ill and perverted and target them.
  5. They are subjected to humiliation and verbal and physical harassment and violence.
  6. They are forced into exile to large urban centers in order to be free, to live comfortably, and to be free of social pressure.
  7. They are allowed only in certain regions of the cities.
  8. They are readily evicted from overpriced rental properties.
  9. Because they are not protected as a recognized disadvantaged group [by law], they either cannot find employment or have to endure long periods of unemployment. When they announce their identities or orientations, they are fired, subjected to workplace harassment, sexual harassment, and blackmail.
  10. LGBTIs, who already have limited access to health services, are pushed out of health programs. They have difficulties especially in accessing services related to sexual health.
  11. Sexist, homophobic, and transphobic discourses are deployed in textbooks. LGBTIs who are educators face dismissal under the pretense of acting against public morality or of acting dishonorably.
  12. LGBTIs who lack social security and stable income are clearly targeted more by discrimination and have a difficult time protecting themselves.
  13. While the internal dynamics of hetero relations are not questioned, LGBTIs are always subject to public curiosity [and scrutiny]. Homosexuals are treated as if they were merely sexual beings [2]. Their sexuality is scrutinized and pulled to shreds while they are subjected to absurd and offhand “jokes,” as if such behavior were part of ordinary life.
  14. The lack of the right to establish legal partnerships [civil unions –Trans.] brings with it economic and emotional problems. They are not afforded any of the related rights, including the right to making medical decisions when the spouse gets sick or the right to inheritance if the spouse dies. The state does not provide any legal protections to couples who have been cohabiting for years, even decades. Spouses are obstructed from visiting their partner in the hospital, or even from attending to their partner’s funeral.
  15. They are not legally allowed to adopt children.
  16. The majority of LGBTIs live alone when they become elderlies. Because the state does not produce any protective effort or projects, it is not only more difficult for them to fight against discrimination but they also experience various problems in relation to housing and care. They are once again forced to keep their sexual orientation and gender identity as they age.
  17. A widespread exclusion is experienced by those who are discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity in school, at work, at home, on the streets, and in the public sphere.
  18. They cannot benefit as they need from public transportation services due to various prejudices.
  19. In murders of LGBTIs, the murderers either remain unidentified and uninvestigated or enjoy impunity in the judiciary as their sentences are reduced under the pretense of “unjust provocation.” As violence is legitimized, instances of suicides among and of hate crimes against LGBTIs increase.
  20. According to the 2015 Trans Rights Europe Map and Index, Turkey, which demonstrates significant shortcomings in protecting trans people and recognizing gender identity [and gender expression], is 9th highest in the world for the frequency of hate murders against trans individuals. There are countless cases of assault, bodily harm, and murder with LGBTI victims, who are one of the most targeted groups in hate crimes.
  21. The harder it is for LGBTIs to announce their sexual orientation or gender identity, the harder it becomes for them to access the legal system and to bring to the judiciary their struggles. Another important problem is the chaos in the legal system and the vagueness of laws as they relate to LGBTIs. Even bars lack commissions regarding this issue.
  22. Many LGBTIs are subjected to hetero/sexist profanities, insults, and police brutality, with trans people being targeted by such dishonorable conduct the worst.
  23. Lesbians, bisexuals, and trans women are not allowed in shelters when they are subjected to violence. Gays and trans men, on the other hand, do not have any resources they can appeal to when they are subjected to violence.
  24. In situations where their appearance is perceived not to abide by the color of their ID card [3], trans women and men are subjected to various allegations [by law enforcement officers and private security and citizens alike –Trans.], such as “is this yours or is it your sibling’s?” or “did you steal this ID card?”

Mehtap Doğan
Media Director, Media Partnership Communications Consultation
mehtapdogan at 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.


We ask MP Candidates: Will you defend LGBTI rights in the Parliament?

As the parliamentary elections in Turkey approach, The Istanbul-based LGBTI advocacy group, Social Policies, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Studies Association (SPoD) has called on candidates, political parties, and party leaders to work towards the active inclusion of LGBTIs in decision- and policy-making mechanisms. SPoD has prepared an “LGBTI Rights Pledge,” the full text of which is presented below, and has circulated it to be signed by all parliamentary candidates.

SPoD LGBTI  calls on candidates to follow a political approach that guarantees LGBTI rights and freedoms, stating:

Recently, we have witnessed that the politicians have began assuming responsibility to promote LGBTI rights and freedoms. This is mainly due to the efforts by LGBTI rights movements, working  for LGBTIs to have equal citizenship status and fighting oppressive and discriminatory policies and practices against LGBTI persons in Turkey. We know that the number of politicians who are defending LGBTI rights is insufficient and that political parties ought to display a much more effective stance for LGBTI rights, especially when we take into account the alarmingly high prevalence of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

As SPoD LGBTI, we have invited parliamentary candidates, political parties, and party leaders to work together on policies to support LGBTI rights, in accordance with our campaign, “LGBTI in the Parliament.” We submit the following “LGBTI Rights Pledge” to be signed by all parliamentary candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections in Turkey. Through this pledge, we call on all candidates to present a political approach that guarantees LGBTI rights and freedoms. We declare that we will continue to monitor the performance of the candidates who sign the LGBTI Rights Pledge, if elected to the new parliament.

The Pledge that the candidates are asked to sign is as follows:



As general elections approach,  SPoD LGBTI representatives who have started the “LGBTI in Parliament” campaign for the active participation of LGBTIs in decision and policy making, have published a declaration inviting MP candidates, political parties and party leaders  to work together. Knocking on the doors of political parties one by one and demanding support for the participation of LGBTIs in politics, SPoD LGBTI representatives have announced that they will be following the candidate selection processes closely.


LGBTI rights is not a matter of right or left; it’s about human rights!

The bell rings and LGBTIs meet at the “Politics School” for political participation. School participants share their thoughts with KaosGL.org…

Source: Yıldız Tar, “LGBTİ hakları sağ sol meselesi değil, insan haklarıdır!” (“LGBTI rights is not a matter of right or left; it’s about human rights!”), Kaos GL, 3 March 2015, http://www.kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=18870

SPoD LGBTI (Social Policy, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association) is running a campaign entitled “LGBTIs in the Parliament” which includes the “Politics School” that is currently active in Istanbul.


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.  


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.

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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).