Disputes haunting Constitution panel

Disputes haunting Constitution panel

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Disputes haunting Constitution panel

CHP’s Atilla Kart objects to skipping articles the early stages of charter works. AA photo

Lingering disagreements on how to formulate prohibitions against discrimination are hindering the progress of Parliament’s charter-making commission, less than a month after the panel began to write the draft of a new charter for Turkey.

After fresh discussions yesterday, the cross-party commission once again failed to reach an agreement on a provision which would ban discrimination, as the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the Republican People’s Party (CHP) insisted on an explicit reference to “sexual orientation” and “ethnic origin” as forms of discrimination, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.

The topic was sent to a subcommission to be discussed further, along with three other disputed clauses concerning “social exclusion,” “gender equality” and “the state’s positive obligations,” which are part of the equality article in the chapter on fundamental rights and freedoms. The meeting of the subcommission was still under way when the Daily News went to print.

If the disagreements persist, the commission will skip the contentious topics and return to them later. The CHP, however, has raised objections to such a method. “Skipping articles or paragraphs at such an early stage is unacceptable. It would have an adverse impact on future work,” the CHP’s Atilla Kart said.

Members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) argued that inclusion of “sexual orientation,” which aims to ensure constitutional protection for homosexuals, could mislead people to believe that protection is granted to “perversion.”

Some deputies argued that, “there is no need to mention in the charter a group which makes up 1 percent of society” and claimed that the inclusion of such a clause could prompt the rejection of the would-be charter at the referendum.

CHP and BDP members signaled they could compromise and agree to include the “sexual orientation” reference in the reasoning section, but the AKP and the MHP have rejected that suggestion. AKP members have previously described same-sex relationships as a “disease.” The MHP and the AKP also objected to a BDP-backed CHP proposal which explicitly bans discrimination on the basis of “ethnic origin.”