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Turkey to become second majority Muslim nation to protect sexual minorities from discrimination

Turkey’s Constitutional Consensus Committee agreed Monday that sexual orientation be added to a section of a draft new constitution – which if passed would make it only the second majority Muslim country to protect sexual minorities
An LGBT flag is carried through the streets of Istambul.
Photo by KAOS GL.

Turkey looks set to join Albania as one of only two majority Muslim nations to protect sexual minorities from discrimination after its Constitutional Consensus Committee agreed sexual orientation should be added to a section of a new draft constitution.

Homosexuality was added only to a 'justifications,' section of the draft constitution which functions like a guidebook or appendix for judges and prosecutors.

The clause was added despite some deputies from the ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party decrying that it would make it a ‘homosexual constitution' but the move appears to have been successful as a trade off with allowing Muslim women who wear headscarves to become state employees and mayors – something that was previously forbidden.

The inclusion of sexual orientation is likely to make Turkey’s entry to the European Union smoother as it is one of the issues the country has been urged to make progress on.

The effort to add sexual orientation to the draft constitution was championed by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party and the Nationalist Movement Party.

However Turkish LGBT rights group Kaos GL say they fear the mention of homosexuality in the draft constitution will not make it to the final version and doubt that it will have any great effect even if it is left in.

'As we have so many homophobic [and] transphobic judges in Turkey, it is difficult to expect that their interpretation of hate crimes will change all of a sudden by this addition,' a spokesperson for the group messaged GSN.

'This whole thing is just a draft, [the sexual orientation and gender identity] part can be deleted later.

'The ruling party ... are not looking for actually any trade off because they have the majority, hence all their careless brutality during [the] Gezi [Park] protests as well.'

The issue of LGBT discrimination has been highlighted in Turkey due to a recent murder trial where a father murdered his gay son, while LGBTs have been a very visible part of the Gezi Park protest movement.

Albania passed anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBTs in 2010 though activists have complained they have been poorly enforced.

Albania's population is 60% Muslim but the country is formally a secular democracy and religion has far less of a hold over the nation than in the past.

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