A contentious legal article allowing state religious officials (Müftis) to perform and register marriages was published in the Official Gazette on Nov. 3, formally legalizing the regulation after it was approved by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The article, which was approved by parliament on Oct. 18 amid fierce objections from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), has thus now officially gone into effect.
The bill, titled “Draft Law on the Amendment of the Civil Registry Services Act and Some Other Laws,” passed in parliament with support from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
The bill includes an article allowing “muftis” - religious officials from the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) - to perform and register marriages and was submitted to parliament on July 25, drawing strong criticism from opposition parties and women's rights groups.
The law previously assigned state registrars in local municipalities to record all marriages. Critics of the new regulation argue that it will pave the way for “unrecorded marriages” and “child marriages.” They also say it violates the secular principles of Turkey's civil code and will compromise the civil rights of women, including the right to divorce and heredity.
President Erdoğan vowed in a speech on Oct. 13 during the parliamentary discussions that the law would pass “whether you like it or not.”
Defending the law, AKP Deputy Group Chair Naci Bostancı said the article is a “regulation of civil life, not religious life.”
“A ‘mufti marriage' is categorically a civil marriage. The marriage itself and its legal consequences are the same as the municipality marriages that are currently carried out,” Bostancı said.
“It also has nothing to do with child marriages,” he added.
Source: Hurriyet Daily News