Erdoğan calls for referendum on right to wear headscarf

Turkey’s President Erdoğan has called for referendum to be held on the right to wear headscarf, after the main opposition CHP submitted a draft law on the issue.

Photo: AA

Duvar English

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Oct. 22 called for a referendum to be held on the right to wear headscarf.

"The CHP leader has reopened the long forgotten headscarf debate. Let's put the freedom of the headscarf under constitutional guarantee to ease the hearts of our girls and sisters. We have made preparations for this constitutional amendment. We will send it to the Parliamen," Erdoğan said while speaking at an opening ceremony in the eastern province of Malatya.

"We have prepared a constitutional amendment against the impositions of deviant movements, which is another vital issue. If the proposal submitted to the Parliament is accepted, it will be an important gain for Turkey. If the opposite happens, we will continue our struggle to bring our country to a civil and libertarian constitution after the election. Let's take this matter to a referendum. Let the nation decide on this matter," he added.

Replying to Erdoğan, Kılıçdaroğlu said in a tweet that “What happened, are you going to play a fake Orban, Erdoğan? This is Turkey, not Hungary. Support the law proposal, not the referendum... If you don't escape, this issue will be solved… Do you have that courage?" 

In April, Hungarians voted in a government referendum about sexual orientation workshops in schools, a vote which was considered as fuelling prejudice against the LGBTQ community. The referendum was not considered as valid, because the share of valid votes was below the required threshold of 50% of the registered voters.

President Erdoğan on Oct. 5 called for a constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to wear headscarf for women, after the CHP on Oct. 4 submitted a draft law with regards to the issue.

Erdoğan later said that the constiutional amendment in question will also include the protection of family which according to him "consists of the union of man and woman."

"The concept of family is indispensable for us. Because a strong nation comes from a strong family. Lately they have introduced LGBT into society, trying to degenerate our family structure," Erdoğan further said on Oct. 7.

CHP's move came amid allegations that the CHP would reban headscarf if it won the general elections scheduled to take place in June 2023.

The issue of the headscarf ban held an important place in public and political debates in Turkey in the 1990s and early 2000s.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lifted the headscarf ban for students in universities in 2010 and for public employees in 2013.