Parliament panel approves gov’t’s headscarf bill

A parliamentary commission has approved a constitutional amendment package tabled by the ruling alliance that stipulates lifting restrictions against women wearing headscarf in public and private spaces, and strengthening the family structure.

The Constitutional Commission approved on Jan. 24 the bill with the votes of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The lawmakers from these parties rejected the proposals introduced by the oppositional lawmakers and voted for the original text.

The Republican People's Party and the İYİ (Good) Party criticized the bill prepared by the ruling alliance that it undermines the secularism principle of the Turkish constitution. They proposed some changes in the wording of the AKP-MHP text to avoid future problems concerning secularism.

The CHP and İYİ Party left the commission after their proposals were rejected by the ruling alliance. The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) did not attend the meeting on the grounds that it will not take part in amending the constitution with the government that does not comply with the existing charter.

The constitutional package liberates the use of the headscarf in public and private spaces and protects the structure of the family by clarifying that marriage can only take place between a man and a woman.

The AKP and the MHP, lack at least 25 votes to have the package taken to a referendum and 65 votes to legislate it at the parliament without going to a referendum. The bill is expected to be taken to the agenda of the General Assembly in the coming days.

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