10/04/2023 | Writer: Selma Koçak

Esmeray, a well-known performer and a trans activist, became İstanbul 2nd electoral district and 3rd place candidate from TİP lists. Trans activists Niler Albayrak and Talya Aydın and lawyer Sena Yazıbağlı from İzmir Bar Association LGBTI+ Rights Commission, also took place on TİP lists.

Esmeray became an MP candidate on Workers’ Party of Turkey lists Kaos GL - News Portal for LGBTI+

Alliances and political parties submitted their parliamentary candidate lists to Supreme Electoral council (YSK). LGBTI+s could take place only on Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) lists.

TİP announced its parliamentary candidate lists at the beginning of the event held at the İstanbul Lütfi Kırdar International Convention and Exhibition Center, yesterday (April 9).

LGBTI+ rights in the manifesto

At the beginning of the program, TİP Central Decision and Executive Board (MYK) member Can Soyer and parliamentary member Melis Akyürek announced the election manifesto of TİP. LGBTI+ rights were included under a separate heading within the scope of the manifesto.


“We will establish an independent and impartial judiciary, eliminate the obstacles violating the right to legal remedies, and make fundamental rights and freedoms accessible for everyone. We will not allow any discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, sect, gender or LGBTI+. We will ensure that our citizens living with disabilities lead a life as an equal and independent individuals; and struggle against educational and employment discrimination targeting people living with disabilities. We will put an end the oppression on the press, science, universities, internet, arts and culture. We will bring university and youth festivals back. We will defend the free and equal lives of citizens against the conservative imposition.”

Erkan Baş emphasized LGBTI+ struggle

Following the announcement of the election manifesto TİP Chair Erkan Baş took the floor and said: “Comrades, 35 days left, exactly 35 days. After 35 days we will end 20 years of plunder, darkness, lies and robbery and we will holding them to account. Exactly 25 days later, we are taking Recep Tayyip Edroğan’s photographs down from all governmental agencies, we are removing them all together. Even more to the point, we are rending him from our lives.”

Baş frequently mentioned LGBTI+ rights within the context of his speech:

 “We will draw a high-red line on the rights of workers, the freedom of women, the equality of Kurdish people, the existence of LGBTI+s, the protection of our nature, the present of young people, the acquired rights of pensioners, the equal citizenship of Alevis, the indispensability of secularism, not to be crossed!”

LGBTI+ activist candidates on the lists of TİP

TİP will run for election in Adana, Afyonkarahisar, Aksaray, Amasya, Ankara, Antalya, Artvin, Balıkesir, Bayburt, Balıkesir, Bilecik, Bolu, Bursa, Çanakkale, Çankırı, Çorum, Denizli, Düzce, Edirne, Erzincan, Eskişehir, Giresun, Gümüşhane, Hatay, Isparta, İstanbul, İzmir, Karabük, Karaman, Kayseri, Kırklareli, Kırşehir, Konya, Kütahya, Mersin, Muğla, Nevşehir, Niğde, Ordu, Osmaniye, Rize, Sakarya, Samsun, Sinop, Sivas, Tekirdağ, Tokat, Trabzon, Uşak, Yalova, Yozgat and Zonguldak.

Trans woman and performer Esmeray Özadikti was nominated as a candidate for 3rd place in İstanbul 2nd electoral district. And trans woman an activist Niler Albayrak was nominated as a candidate for 11th place in İstanbul 3rd electoral district. Trans woman Talya Aydın was also nominated for 18th place in the İstanbul 2nd electoral district.

TİP also made a room for an LGBTI+ right defender in its lists. İzmir Bar Association LGBTI+ Rights Commission member and lawyer Sena Yazıbağlı was nominated as a candidate for 9th place in İzmir 2nd electoral district. Yazıbağlı is the lawyer of trans women living in İzmir and is defending them against transphobic hate attacks and murders.

Esmeray: A resistance story from Ülker Street to theatre

Esmeray, who earned brownie points with her single performances like The Witch’s Bundle and Uncut Stories, is also one of the Ülker Street girls. Esmeray, who is one of the trans woman exiled from Ülker Street with the cooperation of the police and the grey wolves, was also active in politics at Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP) and People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in the following years.

Esmeray, who is considered as a leading name for the feminist movement in Turkey, had told her whole story for Trails, prepared by Kaos GL as an oral history study. 

Esmerayis one of those who marched at the first İstanbul Pride March in 2003 and she describes those days as follows:

“Eight or ten of us went out and marched. Fifty people at the top of Mis Street the following year... So it went on and on and... We were excited, and the police were making fun of us. They didn’t even pay attention to us. I don’t remember the exact things, but I know that we were extremely excited. We left the association building, we had a little flag. You know, that big flag right now, which everyone’s holding and walking around in Istiklal. There were smaller ones then, we were holding it eight or nine people, we were walking. It was something like that.” (pp. 99-100)

And Esmeray remembers Ülker Street as follows:

“Back in ‘92, ‘93, a police chief named Süleyman the Hose came to the Ülker Street. We knew Suleiman the Hose. Now you know the violence of him. They had hoses, three individual hoses. We were constantly being detained when we entering the house, and we were being detained at the checkpoints. We couldn’t go out on the street, we couldn’t shop, we were picked up on the way to the grocery store. We were being detained everywhere. Süleyman the Hose suddenly left, he was appointed to somewhere else. We were so happy.

There was a Habitat period in ‘96 or something. And they said that Süleyman the Hose will come back. You know, because a direct operation to clean up Istanbul has begun. Who are they going to clean up? They’re going to clean up street kids, hobos, and transvestites. They’re bringing the Hose. Süleyman the Hose came back to Beyoğlu. And since it was summer, everyone’s gone on vacation. We said, “Let’s go on vacation, meanwhile the Hose would go away and we can return to our home” We were wrong. It turns out the Hose has come to settle down. Of course, the first raids to Ülker Street... Terrible raids. The street was closed. There was martial law on the street. There were always police waiting outside everyone’s door. We couldn’t get out. We were taking our lovers in from back doors. Those lovers of us were so determined that we discovered places from in the backsides of buildings. Think about it now, we’re on the fifth floor. We come down from the fifth floor with duvets, sheets tied together, we climb down. There are gaps in that alley, and we’re going from that gap to the other street. We’ve discovered a place at the entrance to the other street building, we’re going through the coal depot of that building to the other street. The lover is coming. We’re describing the route to him, and he goes through that coal depot. We take the lover up to the fifth floor with things. That’s how the lovers came. That’s the way it is. It was a lot of fun. So, for example, I don’t know how much fear we felt, when we heard that Süleyman the Hose was coming we were jumping down from the fifth floor and poof! I probably can’t do it now. And I have a fear of heights. And you say you can’t, but you do it. Suleiman the Hose has put some serious pressure. In the end, the doors were broken, all the doors were broken with sledgehammers, houses were burned, arson, things were thrown into the streets. We can’t go out on the street anymore. We lost the street. Then we fell apart. Everyone’s gone somewhere.” (pp.70-71)

Tags: human rights, women, arts and culture