Top Turkish court annuls provision requiring women to take husband’s surname

Turkey's Constitutional Court (AYM) has issued a decision paving the way for women to use only their own surname after marriage. The court annulled Article 187 of the Turkish Civil Code which obliges women to take the husband’s surname after marriage and said that the article is against the equality clause in the Constitution.

Duvar English

The Constitutional Court (AYM) has annulled the provision in Article 187 of the Turkish Civil Code which states "A woman takes her husband's surname upon marriage; however, she may use her previous surname in front of her husband's surname upon a written application to the marriage registrar or later to the civil registry office."

The top court decided that the provision is against the equality clause in the Constitution. The court's decision was released in the Official Gazette on April 28. 

In its decision, the Constitutional Court stated that provisions that create positive effects in society at the time of their entry into force and make it possible to maintain order in a certain area might become insufficient to meet the needs of society over time.

In this context, the top court stated that many amendments were made in the past to ensure equality between women and men, such as the abolition of the provision stipulating that "the husband is the head of the marriage union."

The court concluded that the different treatment between men and women in the context of using their surname alone after marriage violates the principle of equality since it is not based on an objective and reasonable basis.

The top court ruled that the annulment would enter into force nine months after its publication in the Official Gazette. 

Dissenting judge finds equality between men and women 'modern superstition’

One of the members of the top court who voted against the ruling, deemed the equality between men and women "one of the modern superstitions," when explaining why he expressed a dissenting opinion. 

Judge Muammer Topal claimed that the anatomical, physiological, and psychological differences between men and women make social equality impossible.

“There is structural inequality between men and women as a reality of creation. This situation is generally seen as an obstacle to the equality of women and men in terms of their position in society,” he said.