September 16, 2004

Istanbul, Not Constantinople

by PG

As I've been discussing American adultery bans, I felt obliged to note that the Islamic-majority nation of Turkey has rejected criminalizing adultery after public outcry and EU disapproval. This strikes me as the appropriate mechanism for eliminating such legislation; the political mechanisms of citizen protest and compatibility with an entity one wishes to join are better than attempts to find such laws unconstitutional.

In distinguishing the context of the proposed adultery law from those currently standing in the U.S., keep in mind that the greatest lobbying effort against it came from Turkish women. Until only eight years ago, Turkey punished a man for adultery if he kept a mistress, i.e. maintained a residence for his non-spousal sex partner. Women, on the other hand, were guilty of adultery just for having sexual relations with men other than their husband. The highest court found that law unconstitutional for its discrimination against women; to my knowledge, Turkish jurisprudence has no "right to privacy" that would enable defendants to challenge an equitable adultery prohibition at all.

(Post title via Waldo Jaquith)

September 16, 2004 10:40 AM | TrackBack

Funny that you blog this story. It came up in my "International Human Rights" class and I nearly blogged it (I saved my bit as draft...). You and I, PG, have a fair amount in common, so it seems.

At any rate, criminalizing adultery is a perfect example of the government poking its nose into what should be purely family business. Right family business is quite a different beast than right government business. Let's hope it stays that way here at home.

Posted by: Nick Morgan at September 16, 2004 11:30 AM

"the political mechanisms of citizen protest and compatibility with an entity one wishes to join are better than attempts to find such laws unconstitutional."

I realize this story takes place in Turkey, but it's obvious that the commentary is made with an American backdrop with an eye to our tradition of constitutional litigation. This comment is a reminder of how far Americans today are removed from the historical fact that our Constitution is itself an expression of our political beliefs, and the creation of the Constitution was itself the use of the ultimate "political mechanism" with far more credibility and weight than any other. How sad that we now view interpretations of our Constitution which conflict with trend-of-the-day legislation as almost illegitimate and worthy of no respect. The founding fathers did not intend such contempt to exist for the principles they lay forth in that document, after so much sacrifice on their part.

Posted by: UCL at September 17, 2004 03:22 AM
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