Erdogan champions contentious bill to regulate bar associations


Turkey's president praised a controversial bill that would amend the organisation of bar associations and curb their powers, saying it would be introduced in parliament on Tuesday.

The bill triggered nationwide protests last week by lawyers who said the changes were aimed at silencing them. The heads of some 60 bar associations converged on Ankara in a symbolic "defence march".

Bodies like bar associations have "unhealthy systems" and use "fascist methods" on their members, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after a Monday's cabinet meeting. The government was determined to solve this "mistake" and create a "more democratic, more diverse" bar system, he said, adding it would be enacted as soon as possible.

Bar associations frequently clash with Erdogan's administration as they criticise the lack of judicial independence and rule of law in the country. The bill would allow additional bar associations in provinces with more than 5,000 registered lawyers, according to media reports, which in effect could create splinter, government-friendly bodies.

Erdogan mentioned a change to the law regulating bar associations after they lashed out at homophobic remarks made by Ali Erbas, the head of top religious authority Diyanet.

At the start of Ramadan, Erbas said Islam condemns homosexuality, which brings disease and generational decay. Erdogan, who backed Erbas then, said some people are "insidiously attacking our moral values" by "normalising deviancies."

Without naming any demographic, he urged people to stand "against those who demonstrate every kind of perversion that our god has forbidden."

Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, but attacks on LGBTQ communities and their supporters are common.    (dpa)

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