In the recent day, there were allegations that a family from Hatay wanted to transfer their daughter, who is a freshman in high school, to Özel Çağdaş Okulları (Private Çağdaş Schools) which are affiliated with Foundation of Education, Health, and Scientific Research Works but they were rejected due to the student’s wearing hijab appeared in both printed and visual press.
Freedom of religion and conscience, right to education, and prohibition of discrimination as one of the fundamental human rights principles are guaranteed under national and international human right documents. According to the Article 14 of United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) States Parties have to respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The overall objective of education is to maximize the child’s ability and opportunity to participate fully and responsibly in a free society. (Committee on the Rights of the Child, CRC/GY/2001/1, para. 12). Therefore, discrimination on the basis of any of the grounds listed in article 2 of the CRC, whether it is overt or hidden, offends the human dignity of the child and is capable of undermining or even destroying the capacity of the child to benefit from educational opportunities (Committee on the Rights of the Child, CRC/GY/2001/1, para.12).
As emphasized in the decision of European Court of Human Right (ECtHR) and UN Human Rights Committee, freedom of religion and conscience regulated in the Article 9 of European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) also covers the manifestation of his/her religion or belief, in worship, teaching practice and observance, using the symbols of his/her religion, and observing the holidays and rest days of that religion. Conformity to religion or belief, or practicing the necessities of religion or belief may include not only ceremonies but also certain dietary customs, the wearing of certain clothing, and also the wearing of the headscarf. (HREIT, A. No: 2019/3404, D. No: 2020/26, para.29). Within this scope, wearing hijab should also be accepted as an exterior reflection within the scope of freedom of religion and belief. Moreover, if a person is refused a service due to her wearing hijab as a requirement of her faith, there is not only a discrimination on the basis of religion and belief, but also on the basis of gender as well (HREIT, Evaluation Report Regarding the Decision of Court of Justice of the European Union dated 15.07.2021, 2023, Ankara, p. 35).
Any kind of different treatment that prevents or makes difficult, on grounds of religion, belief, or sex, the exercise of legally recognized rights and freedoms by a natural person in an equal manner as compared to comparable persons constitutes a direct discrimination on the bases of religion, belief, or gender. Discrimination on the bases of religion, belief, and sex are firmly prohibited with the provision of "it is prohibited under this Law to discriminate against persons based on the grounds of sex, race, colour, language, religion, belief, sect, philosophical or political opinion, ethnical origin, wealth, birth, marital status, health status, disability and age" in the second paragraph of Article 3 of Law no. 6701 on Human Rights and Equality Institution of Türkiye entitled "Principle of Equality and Non-Discrimination," and with the Article 4 of the said Law, these are recognized as a form of direct discrimination. Under the Law no. 6701, HREIT has the authority to conduct ex officio investigations and impose administrative sanctions to natural and legal persons who violate the prohibition of discrimination.
Our Institution, main mission of which is to guarantee persons' right to equal treatment on the basis of human dignity and prevention of discrimination in the exercise of legally recognized rights and freedoms, is closely watching the aforementioned allegation which was mentioned in visual and printed media within the framework of its institutional duty.
Respectfully announced to the public.