EU enlargement commissioner Guenter Verheugen has admonished Turkey for its plan to present a bill to its parliament next week that would return adultery to criminal status in the country, saying that it could affect Turkey's chances of joining the EU. Adultery was illegal in Turkey until 1996 when the Constitutional Court struck it down for penalizing women disproportionately more than men. Under the law, men were classified as adulterers if involved in long-term affairs, but women could be punished being unfaithful just once. Women's groups, commentators, and commissioner Verheugen agreed that the bill could be used to dwindle women's rights and push the secular Muslim state into a more Islamic legal model.
Verheugen said in an interview with the Turkish Vatan, "Turkey should not give the impression... that it is introducing Islamic elements into its legal system while engaged in a great project such as the EU." Verheugen has been in the country for several days and has made several comments on the importance of women's rights. An EU report due in October will formally assess Turkey's progress towards EU membership, the first EU candidate for full membership with a predominantly Muslim population.
BBC has more on the reaction to Turkey's bill. For background on Turkey's bid to join the EU, click here, or visit the Delegation of the EU to Turkey itself.