Turkey’s largest city of Istanbul and its southern port city of Mersin now have four 'LGBT-friendly' mayors between them.
According to the Hurriyet Daily News, the four elected were among 32 candidates who ran during the elections on March 30 and signed the LGBT Friendly Municipality Protocol.
The protocol was prepared by the Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (SPoD), a LGBT rights NGO.
Signatories of the protocol had undertaken to protect and improve LGBTI people’s rights and freedoms; actualize policies that will allow LGBTI people equal access to public services, health care, housing, employment; cooperate with LGBTI associations and initiatives; promote non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and provide training to municipality employees on LGBTI rights and discrimination.
Three of the four elected LGBT friendly mayors are the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) candidates of Istanbul’s central districts: Aykurt Nuhoğlu in Kadıköy, Murat Hazinedar in Beşiktaş and Hayri İnönü in Şişli.
The other is Yüksel Mutlu the Peace and Democracy Party’s BDP co-candidate in the Akdeniz district in Mersin. He is the only known LGBT-friendly mayor outside Istanbul.
Early, unofficial reports suggested on LGBTI activist, Sedef Cakmak had been elected as a municipal councilor in Istanbul's Besiktaks district. But LGBTI News Turkey later confirmed with the Supreme Election Committee that none of the 10 LGBTI activists were, in fact, elected.
Same-sex relations are legal in Turkey which is officially a secular state although 99% of the population is Muslim. Several thousand people march in Istanbul’s annual Turkish Gay Pride Parade – the only march of its kind in a majority-Muslim country.