Executive summary

AuthorKaran, Ula?
1. Introduction
After snap presidential elections on 24 June 2018, Turkey changed from a parliamentary
to a presidential system, which the Venice Commission has found to constitute ‘an
excessive concentration of executive powers in the hands of the President and the
weakening of parliamentary control of that power’.1 The President now has unsupervised
and exclusive powers to appoint and dismiss ministers and high-ranking state officials,
dissolve the Parliament on any grounds and declare a state of emergency. He also appoints
four of the 13 members of the Council of Judges and Prosecutors, which oversees the
appointment, promotion and dismissal of judges and prosecutors. The President also has
wide de facto legislative powers by virtue of his authority to issue presidential decrees on
‘matters relating to executive powers’.
Since July 2018, Turkey has been ruled by a so-called presidential system against the
principles of the separation of powers, constitutional review and the supremacy of the
Parliament in law-making. During the emergency regime, declared on 21 July 2016 and
lifted on 19 Jul y 2018, 32 executive decrees having the force of law were adopted. All of
those decrees were approved by the Turkish Parliament. Three of the decrees were subject
to review by the Constitutional Court in 2019.2 Although the period of emergency rule
expired on 19 July 2018, its effects still prevail.
2. Main legislation
As Turkey is not a member of the European Union, Directives 2000/43/EC and 2000/78/EC
have not been transposed or implemented. The Law on the Human Rights and Equality
Institution of Turkey (No. 6701), the anti-discrimination law adopted in 2016, prohibits
direct, indirect and multiple discrimination as well as instruction to discriminate,
discrimination by assumption, segregation, harassment and mobbing in the workplace.
Discrimination by association is not included.
Furthermore, there are anti-discrimination provisions in the Constitution and in several
laws. The equality protection clause of the Turkish Constitution, Article 10, provides a non-
exhaustive list of the following enumerated grounds: language, race, colour, gender,
political opinion, philosophical belief, religion and denomination. Most notable among the
laws with anti-discrimination clauses is the Law on Persons with Disabilities, which could
be considered an anti-discrimination law. However, the law prohibits discrimination solely
on the ground of disability and has limited material scope. In addition, various laws,
including the Labour Law, the Penal Code and the Law on National Education, have anti -
discrimination clauses, but again with limited material scope. Sexual orientation is not
enumerated in any of the laws, including the Law on the Human Rights and Equality
Institution of Turkey, or in the Constitution, despite the consistent efforts of human rights
and LGBTI associations. On the other hand, the Constitutional Court explicitly recognised
sexual orientation as a ground of discrimination (Section 1).3 Age is explicitly listed as a
protected ground only in the Law on the Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey.
However, as with sexual orientation, age was also recognised as a ground by the
Constitutional Court.4
1 Venice Commission (2017), Opinion on the amendments to the Constitution adopted by the Grand National
Assembly on 21 January 2017 and to be submitted to a national referendum on 16 April 2017, CDL-
AD(2017)005, 13 March 2017, para. 47, available at:
2 Constitutional Court, E. 2016/205, K. 2019/63, 24 July 2019; E. 2018/73, K. 2019/65, 24 July 201 9; E.
2017/18, K. 2019/66, 25 July 2019.
3 Constitutional Court, Sadıka Şeker, Application No. 2013/1948, 23 January 2014 .
4 Constitutional Court, Tuğba Arslan, Application No. 2014/256, 25 June 2014, para. 114.

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