Turkey Changing Law To Allow Religious Weddings Sponsored By The Government

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Islamic Officials Can now Perform Marriages Like Secular Officials

Marriage is changing in Turkey. On Wednesday, the Turkish Parliament voted to give “muftis”, Islamic authorities recognized as civil servants, permission to perform marriage ceremonies.

Before in Turkey marriages performed by the state were done by a government official. Any marriage could be performed by a religious figure, but it was a separate ceremony not officially recognized by the government. The law does not replace secular with religious officials but gives another opportunity. Proponents of the bill state it will increase the number of official marriages.

Critics have argued it opens the space for more child brides. 15 percent of marriages in Turkey in the last six years have had at least one underage spouse. Imams have been connected with underage marriage ceremonies and the opposing party argued it would get worse under the new law.

They have also criticized it as a violation of the secular foundation of the country. The 174th article of the Constitution reads that a marriage has to take place before a secular official. Even though that is still allowed, the belief is that haveing secular, governmental weddings should be the only position for the Turkish government.

Turkish President Erdogan has supported the law publicly and said it would be approved “whether you like it or not.”

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