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The information contained on this page represents the situation as of 1 January 2014 and is a summary of the country report produced by the country expert from the network. The summary can be downloaded here as well.

Dilek Kurban

Country context

There is no official data on the composition of the population in Turkey on the basis of the ethnicity, denomination and mother tongue. The majority of the population indicates some degree of affiliation with Islam. Alevis constitute the largest religious minority. The total number of various non-Muslim communities (Greek Orthodox, Armenian Catholic, Gregorian, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Assyrian, Yezidi) is around 100,000 in a country with a population of 75 million.

Main principles and definitions

There is no national anti-discrimination law in Turkey; and various laws which prohibit discrimination do not provide a definition of any of these terms, with the exception of disability. Age, ethnicity, sexual identity and sexual orientation are not listed among the prohibited grounds in any of the legal provisions mentioned above and disability is mentioned explicitly only in the Turkish Criminal Code and the Law on Persons with Disabilities.

Enforcing the law

There are no special bodies established to receive applications from victims of discrimination. Consequently, in cases of allegations of discrimination, the complainants have to follow general administrative and legal venues. If the victim seeks an amicable settlement instead of a court action, alternative dispute settlement methods offered in the Turkish legal system are very limited. 

Main legislation

There is no specific anti-discrimination or equal treatment legislation in Turkey. As Turkey is not a member of the European Union, Directives 2000/43 and 2000/78 have not been transposed. There is a draft Law on Combating Discrimination and Establishment of an Equality Council prepared by the government in 2009 and submitted to public discussion in 2010. The draft was apparently inspired by the Directives and the European experience. Both the list of prohibited grounds and the material scope of the draft are wider than the Directives. More than four years after its preparation, the draft legislation has still not been adopted.

Material scope

The material scope of the Directives is not reflected in the Turkish legislation. The protection from discrimination in the employment context only applies after the employment relationship is established. There are no specific laws governing anti-discrimination in other realms of public life or prohibition of ethnic and racial discrimination in all walks of life.

Equality bodies

Currently, there is no specialized body established for the promotion of equal treatment. The draft law on anti-discrimination stipulates the establishment of one.

As of 2012, Turkey has a national human rights institutionand an ombudsman institution. The Human Rights Institution reports to the Prime Ministry and has competence over protecting human rights, preventing human rights violations, receivingand processingclaims, providingeducation and conductingresearch on human rights.

Go to the European Commission - Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities This initiative is financed by the EC Programme Progress. But the views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect the official views of the EU institutions.