As part of the 17th LGBTT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite and transsexual) Pride Week, a panel entitled "LGBTT individuals on the agenda of mainstream politics" was organised.
Lack of information
Akın Birdal, MP for the Democratic Society Party (DTP) in Diyarbakır, argued, "The Turkish Republic has been built on discrimination", adding:
"Parliament is uninformed about LGBTT individuals and their projects. That is why our priority target is to create an acceptance of the idea of equality and freedom on LGBTT issues."
Mehmet Sevigen, MP for the Republican People's Party (CHP) in Istanbul also spoke at the panel. He said "Previous to this panel, I did not think much about the existence of LGBTT individuals. Parliament is really quite uninformed on this issue. I myself will try to increase awareness among colleagues and next year more of us will come here."
To this, MP Sebahat Tuncel of the DTP replied that the issue was not a question of numbers.
"The source of the problem is the oppressive style of a patriarchal system. It is important to identify the source and work accordingly. That is why it is important to be organised. Organisations like Lambdaistanbul and Diyarbakır Piramid LGBTT have key functions. That is why parliament needs to consult LGBTT organisations when working on discrimination.
Women and LGBTT need to work together
Tuncel added that women's movements had similar demands and were undergoing similar processes to LGBTT groups. She called for the two movements to continue their collaboration.
The DTP MP said that her party had LGBTT rights in their party programme, but that not enough was being done in practice.
The panel was held at the X-Large Club in Istanbul on Friday, 26 June and was moderated by Kürşad Kahramanoğlu, a journalist for the Birgün newspaper.
"Politicians must change"
Kahramanoğlu recounted how, during the years he spent living in Britain, he had been able to witness how politicians' attitudes towards LGBTT rights had changed. He said, "If one considers LGBTT rights in terms of human rights, then politicians in Turkey also have to change."
Birdal called for a working group on LGBTT rights to be formed in the Parliamentarian Human Rights Commision, while Sevigen argued that education was the key to changing social attittudes. (AA/BÇ/AG)
*Salih Canova from Kaos GL contributed to this article.
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