ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A top administrative court in Turkey ruled Tuesday that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to pull the country out of a key European treaty protecting women from violence was lawful, rejecting petitions seeking its cancellation, the state-run news agency reported.
Erdogan withdrew Turkey from the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention last year, prompting condemnation from women’s rights groups and Western countries. The landmark convention was signed in Istanbul in 2011.
Several women’s groups and other organizations had petitioned the Council of State, arguing that Erdogan’s move to pull out of the treaty through a presidential decree was unlawful. The court’s judges, however, ruled by a majority decision to reject the petitions, Anadolu Agency reported.
Yilmaz Tunc, a member of Erdogan’s ruling party, welcomed the court’s decision, saying it would put an end to “discussions that lack a legal basis.” The main opposition party leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, vowed to return Turkey to the convention “within a week or even 24 hours” should his center-left party come to power in an election next year.
Last year’s decision to leave the convention came after some officials from Erdogan’s Islam-oriented party had advocated for a review of the agreement, arguing it was inconsistent with Turkey’s conservative values by encouraging divorce and undermining the traditional family unit. Critics also claimed that it promoted homosexuality.
Erdogan insisted it wouldn’t be a step backward for women and in March, Turkey’s parliament ratified a bill aimed at combating violence against women that included introducing tougher sentences if the victim of a violent crime is a woman and making persistent stalking punishable by prison.
At least 226 women have been murdered in Turkey so far in 2022, and 425 last year, according to the We Will Stop Femicide group.