Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on the country to consider making adultery illegal, and said that shelving an attempt to outlaw cheating back in 2004 was a mistake.
“I think it would be very, very well-timed to again discuss the adultery issue, as our society is in a different position with regards to moral values,” Mr Erdogan told reporters after a speech in parliament in Ankara.
“This is a very old issue, far-reaching. It should be discussed. It was already in our legal proposals (in 2004) in the first place.”
“At that time we took a step in accordance with the EU’s demands, but we made a mistake,” he said.
Turkey abandoned efforts to criminalise adultery as part of its work towards meeting European Union membership criteria, which involved sweeping changes to the country’s penal code, including the expansion of individual liberties.
The adultery proposal in particular caused a backlash, with EU officials saying the law would hinder Turkey’s chances of joining the bloc.
Mr Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party abandoned the idea in September 2004.
But the President has now expressed regrets about the entire “process” of adhering to the bloc’s requirements.
“I must say that in the EU process, we made a mistake,” he said. “We should now evaluate preparing legislation about adultery and perhaps consider it together with the issue of harassment and others.”
Presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin confirmed at a press conference on 21 February that a new adultery law is on the Justice Ministry agenda, according to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News.
The criminalisation of adultery has been subject to debate in Turkey for decades. In 1996, the country’s constitutional court overturned a previous adultery law, stating it penalised women more than men.
Under the law, women were charged if they cheated once, but men were considered adulterers if they were involved in a long-term affair.