First-ever openly gay parliamentary candidate stands for election in Turkey

Baris Sulu, 37, is running for the left-wing People's Democratic Party party in Eskisehir region in next month's general election

Tom Brooks-Pollock
Monday 25 May 2015 17:25 BST
Baris Sulu
Baris Sulu

A man contesting Turkey's general election is thought to be the first openly gay candidate ever to run for the country's parliament.

Baris Sulu, 37, is the left-wing People's Democratic Party (HDP) candidate in the north-western Eskisehir electoral district, in the Grand National Assembly elections on 7 June.

Mr Sulu, who has campaigned for gay rights in Turkey for 17 years, is standing on a platform of promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.

He becomes the first openly gay man to run for the Turkish parliament - in a country where homosexuality is legal, but where the rights of LGBT people are not protected by law and where they face widespread discrimination and intimidation.

Mr Sulu told the Anadolu news agency that he was standing against discrimination, and to encourage other gay people to do the same.

He said: "I am not a secret gay. I have got the biggest support from my family and boyfriend and my friends in the party have given me their opinions."

"My interest in politics started when I decided to fight," Mr Sulu added.

"The elections in four years will be utterly different. In the next elections, not just gay candidates will run but also lesbian or transgender candidates.”

Mr Sulu' HDP party is liberal, left-wing and pro-Kurdish. It currently hold 29 of the 550 seats in the Turkish Parliament, which is dominated by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

Two transgender women, Deva Ozenen of the Anatolia Party in Izmir and Niler Albayrak for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in Istanbul, will also be standing in the election.

In 2011, Amnesty International called for the introduction of new laws to protect LGBT Turks from "the discrimination such people face from officials in health services, education, housing and the workplace".

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