The Agenda

Victory remembers Turkish LGBTQ activist Boysan Yakar

Victory mourns and honors the life of Boysan Yakar (pictured), who died in a car accident on September 6. Victory also honors the lives of feminist and LGBTQ activist Zelis Deniz, and Mert Serçe, who were in the car with Boysan.
“Boysan was full of purpose and had a clear plan, which is the exact kind of person Victory looks for in a candidate,” said Aisha Moodie-Mills, president and CEO of the Victory Fund and Institute. “We are honored to have gotten to know Boysan during his time with Victory, and we send our love and support to his family and friends.”
Boysan was an LGBTQ activist in Turkey and the first openly LGBTQ advisor to the Mayor of the Şişli municipality in Istanbul. His position was one of the highest public office positions held by an LGBTQ person in Turkey. He is also one of the first openly LGBTQ candidates to run for office in Turkey.
Boysan worked with Victory this summer through the Professional Fellows Program, a fellowship sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. He brought passion and dedication to his position, and proved himself a savvy campaigner.
During his time in the U.S., he was honored by the State Department’s Global Equality Fund, an initiative that seeks to promote LGBTQ rights around the world during the State Department’s annual Pride celebration. He was honored for his work with Turkish LGBTQ advocacy group Lambdainstanbul.
“If you don’t stand up for your rights, no one’s going to take care you,” Boysan said during a speech at the celebration.
As an advisor to the Mayor of Şişli, Boysan created a department focusing on equality within the municipality and recruited LGBTQ candidates and allies for upcoming elections.
Through Lamdaistanbul, he took part in several LGBTQ initiatives, including Istanbul Pride, where he and others marched despite authorities’ efforts to shut it down. Police shot plastic bullets into the crowd to stop the marchers, wounding 78 people including Boysan. Following the march, he took action, filing a report against the police and sending a complaint to the Governor of Istanbul and Minister of Interior Affairs.
“Boysan was a very passionate and dedicated person,” said Sezen Yalçin, an LGBTQ activist in Turkey and dear friend of his. “He was an inspiration to everyone around him, and his impact will last in the community.”