A Lesson on ‘Discrimination’ for the Constitutional Court

The Turkish Constitutional Court faces internal dissent on its verdict that banning a gay religion teacher from teaching was not discriminatory.

Source: Nurcan Gökdemir, “AYM’ye ‘ayrımcılık’ dersi”, Birgün, 8 March 2018, https://www.birgun.net/haber-detay/aym-ye-ayrimcilik-dersi-207237.html

The Constitutional Court has recently rejected the appeal of a soldier, who was expunged from the Turkish Armed Forces. The reason given by the court for the decision was that “homosexuality is detrimental to the honor of military service”. Now, the Court has ruled that there was no discrimination against a Religious Culture and Moral Values teacher, who was fired for the same reasons.

The court ruling states “It is natural for persons, who want to work educating young children, to be subjected to certain restrictions to which other people are not subjected.” Deputy Chair Engin Yıldırım and member Muharrem Topal did not support the ruling. In his statement for voting against [the ruling] Yıldırım stated that discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited in international agreements and stipulations, which Turkey has agreed to uphold. The statement of dissenting vote, which emphasizes the fact that the Constitutional Court’s ruling is unconstitutional, included these points as the rationale:

“The Constitution states that the State does not have an official sexual orientation and the State must be equal and impartial to all genders, sexual identities, gender identities, and sexual orientations.”

“Discrimination against sexual orientation is an acceptance of the idea that some lives are less deserving of respect and dignity, and therefore lead to hindering LGBTI+ [people’s] participation in social life with equal opportunity and dignity.”

“One of the foundational duties of the state is to protect human dignity and refrain from policies, practices, and judicial regulations that will damage the dignity of people who constitute a particular community”

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