The Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) has nominated a transgender person for a seat in parliament, the only party fielding a candidate from the country’s LGBTQ+ community for May’s parliamentary elections, the Independent Turkish news website reported.
The party, which submitted its list of parliamentary candidates to the country’s election board on Monday, nominated actress and transgender activist Esmeray Özadikti from İstanbul’s second electoral region.
Özadikti was elected a member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) party council in 2013. She recently announced that she had accepted TİP’s offer to run for parliament from the party’s ranks.
Turkey will hold both parliamentary and presidential elections on May 14.
Louis Fishman, an assistant professor of Modern Middle East history at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, tweeted that at a time when LGBTQ+ activists are under constant attacks in Turkey, the nomination of a transgender person for parliament was “a big moment.”
In other news, Turkey now has its first trans woman candidate, Esmeray, who is running on the Workers' Party of Turkey list. In the days when LGBTQ+ activists are under constant attacks in Turkey, this is a big moment. https://t.co/cDk17ogxXg
— Louis Fishman لوي فيشمان לואי פישמן (@Istanbultelaviv) April 10, 2023
Emerging from a 2017 split, TİP, led by former Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) chairman Erkan Baş, has recently established itself as a force in Turkish politics. Advocating for a socialist transformation in the country, the party has made strides in recent years by focusing on issues such as poverty, corruption, gender inequality and discrimination against minority groups.
Although homosexuality has been legal throughout modern Turkey’s history, homophobia is widespread and gay people regularly face harassment and abuse.
In recent years, hateful rhetoric and the propagation of homophobic narratives by some politicians and opinion-makers in Turkey have been rising, and impunity for transphobic hate crimes has been another source of concern.
LGBTQ+ events have also been prohibited, including Istanbul Pride, which was banned in 2014 after taking place every year since 2003.