Constitutional Commission hung up over sexuality rights

Members of Parliament's Constitutional Reconciliation Commission, which has started to write the first draft of Turkey's new constitution, have failed to decide whether the constitution's third article, on equality, should prohibit discrimination based on sexual identity or sexual orientation.

Commission members from the four parliamentary parties -- the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), the Republican People's Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) -- convened on Monday under the leadership of BDP İstanbul deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder to discuss the third article of the new constitution. The third article will address such issues of equality as positive discrimination, the prohibition of discrimination and privilege, the prevention of social exclusion and the rights of children, the elderly and the disabled.

The members did reach a consensus on a number of sub-sections of the article and on the statement that “everyone is equal before the law and no one is above the law.” The article also envisages positive discrimination for women, children, the disabled and the elderly. However, commission members have not been able to reach a decision over a demand by the CHP and the BDP for the insertion of a subsection prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Both the AK Party and the MHP object to this idea. The MHP argues that the article regarding equality should be general and should not reference specific groups, while the AK Party feels there are more important issues to be discussed.

The BDP has also said the article should also envisage the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of ethnicity, but the MHP opposes this idea, so a consensus has not been reached on this issue, either.

“The commission members have reached an agreement that everybody will be equal before the law regardless of their language, religion, ethnicity or gender, but were not able to come to an agreement on the prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation. We want to insert the issue of sexuality into the new constitution,” said Önder, who presided over Monday's meeting.

2012-05-22

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