Iranian hardliners rule out gender equality

AFP: Iran's conservative-dominated parliament voted down a bid by its reformist predecessor to support women's rights and enforce gender equality, press reports said Wednesday. AFP

Tehran - Iran's conservative-dominated parliament voted down a bid by its reformist predecessor to support women's rights and enforce gender equality, press reports said Wednesday.

A bill passed earlier this year by the previous parliament had already been sent back by the conservative watchdog body the Guardians Council, which vets all legislation, on the grounds that it was against Islamic law.

Conservatives won control of the assembly in controversial elections in February which saw many reformist candidates disqualified by the same Guardians Council, and took office in May.

They have since reversed a number of measures taken by the reformist government of President Mohammad Khatami, who still has another year in office.

Gender equality in the Islamic republic has been one of the most controversial issues in the past seven years, since Khatami was first elected.

Debate reached a peak when the reformist parliament ratified Iran's joining the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The Guardians Council again quashed the move, despite the support of severel eminent clerics.

"There was no objection from the women MP's of the conservative parliament when the assembly eliminated "gender equality" from the plan," the daily Shargh reported Wednesday.

On Sunday the parliament voted down plans put forward by its reformist-controlled predecessor aimed at opening up the economy to much-needed foreign investment.