Richard North, 31/08/2004  

Although Turkey has high expectations of being accepted as a pre-accession country – able to conduct entry negotiations to the EU – with a decision expected in late autumn as to whether this status will be confirmed - the government seems to be going out of its way to complicate issues.

Announced yesterday – to the outrage of the main opposition and women's groups – was its intention to make adultery a crime. Furthermore, this is supposed to be part of the package of reforms of the penal code, aimed at meeting EU criteria.

The outrage stems from the fact that although the previous adultery law, abolished six years ago, was applicable to men and women, it was used mainly against women, leading to "gender inequality".

Apparently the EU is also objecting to this new law, although it is not clear whether this is a principled objection, or whether it is concerned about the "gender equality" issue. If the latter, and the law were applied equally to men and women, presumably it would allow Turkey to go ahead.

However, if adultery were made a crime, some EU parliamentarians could be in serious trouble. But while the MEPs could invoke parliamentary immunity, unless their co-criminals were of the same status, we could see their partners being convicted while the MEPs walked away Scot-free. And how would unfaithful "gays" be treated?

Altogether, Turkey's accession is already something of a "can of worms". But it would be ironic if this was the issue over which its application to join foundered.

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