Discrimination against LGBTQ+ Community in Türkiye's Constitutional Amendments

Discrimination against LGBTQ+ Community in Türkiye's Constitutional Amendments
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Dicle Demir

Middle East and Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

Anti-LGBTQ+ remarks have been overshadowing constitutional amendment discussions at the Turkish parliament. Türkiye has not legalized same-sex marriage, yet neither has it ever criminalized consensual sex between adults of the same sex. 

Articles 134 and 136 of the Turkish Civil Code explicitly recognize marriage as consisting of “a man and a woman”. [1] According to Article 41 of the Turkish Constitution, “Family is the foundation of Turkish society and is based on equality between spouses.” [2] Recent discussions on constitutional amendments relate to the inclusion of a subparagraph to Article 41 of the Constitution which would read as “Marriage is established between a man and a woman”. [3] The amendments are allegedly preemptively disabling LGBTQ+ from claiming equal civil rights such as the right to marriage, although the Civil Code of the country constitutes the barrier for any rights claims in this regard.

What requires close attention during the parliamentary discussions on the amendments is the overtly discriminatory remarks made by some of the MPs. Some MPs referred to the LGBTQ+ community as being “imported from the West, perverted, dangerous to the family and to the public”. Although it is possible as of today for post-op trans people to obtain official ID cards with their self-identified gender identity, making it possible for them to marry a person of the other sex, the discussions revolved around rendering this impossible by adding the words “female or male sex assigned at birth” to the Constitution. The highly discriminatory remarks raised concern among the LGBTQ+ community as they are part of an environment becoming gradually more hostile against LGBTQ+ members of the Turkish society.

For the amendments to be adopted at the Parliament, 400 of the 600 MPs would need to vote in favor of it. In the case that the number of votes in favor count between 360 and 400, a referendum must be held, pursuant to Article 175/4 of the Constitution. However, framing the enjoyment of the fundamental rights of sexual minorities as a choice to be made by the public would be a situation of great concern for democracy in Türkiye.

Sources and further reading

[1]  Turkish Civil Code, <https://rm.coe.int/turkish-civil-code-family-law-book/1680a3bcd4> accessed 30 January 2023.

[2] The Turkish Constitution, <https://www5.tbmm.gov.tr/yayinlar/2021/TC_Anayasasi_ve_TBMM_Ic_Tuzugu_Ingilizce.pdf> accessed 30 January 2023.

[3] Official Record of the Meeting of the Commission of Constitution of the Parliament, (19 January 2023), <https://www5.tbmm.gov.tr/develop/owa/komisyon_tutanaklari.goruntule?pTutanakId=3094> accessed 30 January 2023, p. 2.

[4] ibid, p. 68.