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As of today, Turkey appears to have withdrawn from the Istanbul Convention, an effort by the Council of Europe to create a standard legal approach to battling violence against women and domestic abuse.

On 20 March 2021, Turkey has announced its withdrawal from the agreement by presidential decree published in the official gazette. The withdrawal is criticized in social media, and by NGOs. CHP spokesperson claimed that the agreement cannot be withdrawn without parliamentary approval, since it is approved by parliament in 2012. According to CHP and some lawyers, the right to approve the international agreements still belongs to the parliament according to Article 90 of the Constitution. Therefore, when withdrawn these treaties, the parliament must approve. According to the government, the president has the authority to withdraw the international agreements as stated in article 3 of the presidential decree no 9.

While the legitimacy of the apparent withdrawal via a presidential decree is being questioned, the question remains: why withdraw, and why withdraw now? It's been 10 years since the document was ratified by Turkey, so why only withdraw now, or at all?

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    From the BBC: "Turkish conservatives argue its principles of gender equality and non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation undermine family values and promote homosexuality." That should give you a general "why", although it probably doesn't explain the timing too well. Mar 21, 2021 at 2:42
  • It could just be coincidence. It could happen anytime. Sep 3, 2022 at 14:34

2 Answers 2

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Erdogan is quoted as saying

"the Istanbul Convention, originally intended to promote women’s rights, was hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalize homosexuality – which is incompatible with Turkey’s social and family values. Hence, the decision to withdraw."

And the bone of contention in that regard seems to be the convention's

clause on equality and fundamental rights refers to protecting victims without discrimination based on “gender,” “gender identity” and “sexual orientation,” among other categories.

Conservative groups and some officials from Erdogan's Islamic-oriented ruling party take issue with these terms, saying they promote homosexuality. They also say the agreement encourages divorce, undermining the “sacred” family.

The official communique is rather similar

Türkiye is not the only country who has serious concerns about the Istanbul Convention. Six members of the European Union (Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia) did not ratify the Istanbul Convention. Poland has taken steps to withdraw from the Convention, citing an attempt by the LGBT community to impose their ideas about gender on the entire society.

The decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention by no means denotes that the State of the Republic of Türkiye “compromises the protection of women.” Türkiye will not give up on its fight against domestic violence by quitting the Convention.

I don't know much about the timing. The announcement wasn't close to any elections, as far as I can tell. It might have been part of the spats with EU and/or CoE ("sofagate" was next month). Or more likely related to human rights groups criticizing Turkey's increased rhetoric against homosexuality in the previous month.

On February 2, Justice Minister and the Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu called LGBT people “perverts” on Twitter. The social media platform has since flagged the tweet as violating its rules against “hateful conduct”.

CoE has been criticizing Turkey's record on LGBT, but this criticism goes back years. I'm not sure any of the criticism relied on the Istanbul Convention, as opposed to the ECHR (which e.g. CoE complained that Turkey was contravening its article 11 by banning LGBT pride events). Withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention didn't really achieve much in terms of stemming criticism from CoE, e.g. CoE complained/asked again in June "to stop the stigmatization of LGBTI people and uphold their freedoms of assembly".

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BBC's comment has part of truth in it: "Turkish conservatives argue its principles of gender equality and non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation undermine family values and promote homosexuality."

However, the reason of timing is different.

This tolerance was highly abused by women, and false rape and domestic violence accusations and are skyrocketed. Hundreds of thousands of men went to jail with no evidence, and women rights movements show no appreciation, instead acted like a win against men on the battlefront.

Therefore since the legal process in Turkey is already enough to protect women, (minor authorities who applies those are the problem) this convention became obsolete.

Edit: Below are the most popular examples after few min. of research.

1 - Two girls accused their father for rape. Later they confessed they were lying because they owe money for their boyfriend and they didn't want to be punished by their father. Father is still in jail. https://twitter.com/Hurriyet/status/1354717098363281411?s=20

2 - After revealed that a 13 years old girl got pregnant, she states "I was raped by this 17 years old boy." to her father. Her father shot and kill the boy. Later she confesses that she simply had sex with her boyfriend, and wanted to protect him. https://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/tecavuz-cinayetinde-flas-gelisme-15-yasindaki-kizi-da-gozaltinda-40785194

3 - The father did not give his credit card to his daughter. The daughter tells the police she was sexually assaulted by her father. Later she confesses. https://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/cinsel-saldiri-ile-suclanan-baba-kredi-kartini-vermedigim-icin-40885943

4 - The girls tells she was raped by her mother's boyfriend. Even the mother states that her daughter was most likely lying. Yet the man sentenced to 20 years. But when she heard the sentence was 20 years, she finds it too much and confesses she was lying. https://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/durun-iftira-attim-40419582

5 - The man slaps 2 girls who were stealing. The girls tells the police they were harrassed, and the man sentenced to 30 years. 6 years later the girls confesses they were lying. But the man's 30 years sentence is still enforced. https://www.milliyet.com.tr/yerel-haberler/sakarya/6-yil-sonra-iftira-attim-dedi-ama-30-yillik-ceza-degismedi-10016353

6 - Nephew simply start running by yelling "My uncle sexually harassed her." on the street. People gathered and beat the man to the point of death. When she sees the uncle is soon get killed, she confessed she was lying. https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=qZj0m1vBhCw

7 - The girl has sexual intercourse with 2 boys from her school. Later she tells she was raped. The boys spent 17 months in jail during trial. Later the court dismisses the case. https://www.gazetevatan.com/yasam/ozel-universitede-tecavuz-skandali-yeni-gelisme-1295664

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    "This tolerance was highly abused by women, and false rape and domestic violence accusations and are skyrocketed. Hundreds of thousands of men went to jail with no evidence, and women rights movements show no appreciation, instead acted like a win against men on the battlefront." - Can you provide sources for these claims? Note that a man being accused of sexual assault and found not guilty at trial is not, in and of itself, proof that the original accusation was false. Rape is a notoriously difficult crime to prosecute.
    – F1Krazy
    Sep 2, 2022 at 10:28
  • @F1Krazy Added several examples regarding your statement.
    – Pecheneg
    Sep 3, 2022 at 14:30
  • Even if you're 1001% correct and false rape allegations are rampant in Turkey, how does that relate to the Q? Why did Turkey withdraw from the convention? You say "the legal process in Turkey is already enough to protect women". Ok, but why withdraw then? Are they planning to introduce sharia elements so that allegations made by women can be more easily discarded, or something like that? Your answer seems to be mostly your speculation why they've done it, rather than any reason Turkey has stated. Sep 3, 2022 at 17:07
  • @Fizz I think OP doesn't ask "Why", which is the official answer. He asks for "Why now?" He asks for "The real reason", as obviously the convention was exactly the same when it was accepted. You can't provide an official answer to that. For question "Why withdraw", the difference is that in Ist. Convention, the proceedings starts immediately after accusation. Which puts men in the blame immediately. About sharia etc. I don't know how you came up with that, please point out how does it related with any religious rule.
    – Pecheneg
    Sep 3, 2022 at 19:53

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