Transsexual activist candidate to main opposition’s list for Bursa municipal assembly
BURSA – Doğan News Agency
Öykü Evren Özen was the first transgender lawmaker of Turkey during the general elections in 2011. The LGBT activist will now try her luck for a second time in the upcoming local elections. DHA photoÖykü Evren Özen, a transsexual activist, announced on Oct. 11 that she will be running as a candidate for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) from Bursa's Osmangazi district in the upcoming local elections.
The head of the local "Gökküşağı" (Rainbow) LGBT rights association, Özen had previously participated in the 2011 general elections as an independent, after failing in being endorsed by the CHP as a candidate.
“If I am elected to the Municipal Assembly, I will do my best to end gender discrimination and ensure the provision of services that are lacking in Bursa,” Özen said, adding that she had tangible hopes of being listed as CHP candidate in the March 2104 local poll.
“CHP has a quota of five women and 10 men for the Municipal Assembly. As I can figure in both, I see my membership as almost sure,” she said.
Özen stressed that her application had been accepted and was supported by CHP’s Osmangazi district chapter.
İsmet Karaca, CHP's district president, told the Hurriyet Daily News over the phone that each and every party member had the right to run for candidacy.
"The ethnicity, religious beliefs, or the sexual orientation of our members play no role when we choose our candidates," Karaca said.
"We base our decisions on loyalty to the party principles and the efforts made toward party initiatives. This is how we will choose our municipal council candidates."
If elected, Özen will become the first transsexual political representative in Turkey, a country where a diva vocalist Bülent Ersoy has become an icon; transgenders, however, are struggling against discrimination, particularly in running for public offices.