CEE Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Rights 

No 2 (36) 2006


table of contents:





In December the organizers of the Warsaw gay and lesbian pride parade, which was banned in June by the president of the city, filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights charging Polish authorities with the violation of the freedom of assembly and expression. This means problems for Polish president Lech Kaczyński who, being at that time the mayor of Warsaw, issued the ban. During the last few months the decisions of Polish authorities and activities taken by Polish members of the European Parliament repeatedly attracted world media's attention mostly due to their inconsistence with international human rights standards. Pictures of police dragging young people in the street, participants and organizers of the peaceful Equality March in Poznań, could be seen on TV news in many countries. Fortunately, Polish Constitutional Tribunal decided that banning the Poznań March had been unconstitutional.

Polish right-wing politicians, who have taken over the power in Poland, are also trying to dominate in the EU, claiming that the pope has charged them with the mission of "spreading Christian values". Their voices are increasingly heard during all debates that go into human reproductive and sexual rights.  On the other hand, the hearing in European Parliament on SRHR in Europe to be held on February 9th  and hosted by the Polish Delegation of Socialist Group of PE (PES) hopefully will present another, more liberal face of the Polish society.  







Bulgaria: demographic concerns. Bulgarian authorities are alarmed by the population trends of the country. According to Bulgarian Academy of Sciences the population may decline from 8 million in 2001 to 4.5-5.5 million in 2050. That would be the largest drop in all of Europe. Apart from the extremely low birth rate of 1.2-1.3 children for a woman of reproductive age, Bulgaria has been losing its population due to the emigration process. Since 1989 between 700,000 and 1 million people have left the country. Demography experts also point to the need of focusing on improving the quality of life of the Roma minority which is marginalized, largely unemployed, poorly educated and reproducing four times quicker than the rest of the population. The demographic crisis was addressed by the National Security Council which, after the discussion that involved demography experts, politicians and government members, called for the state policy aiming at slowing down the decline in population, boosting the birth rate and improving the quality of the workforce. The council recommended that the government should provide support to families with a second child, housing assistance for newly wed couples and even better jobs.
Source: Agence France-Press, 13.01.2006   


Czech Republic: coercive sterilization. The Czech Public Defender of Rights (ombudsman) published the report on investigation into allegations of the coercive sterilization of Roma women in the Czech Republic. The report is the result of the research carried out by the Ombudsman and his staff on the basis of complaints made by 87 women. The report expressed the ombudsman's conviction that in the Czech Republic "the problem of sterilization – carried out either with unacceptable motivation or illegally – exists". It also finds measures undertaken by the Ministry of Health as to date as inadequate and comes to the conclusion of racial targeting of the policy of coercive sterilization. The recommendations made by the ombudsman refer to 1) domestic law which should better address the principle of informed consent; 2) supplementary measures to ensure a change of culture with regard to informed consent in medical community and among users; 3) simplified procedures of compensation to victims affected by coercive sterilization policy imposed on them by social workers. The report discloses methods of manufacturing "indications"  which would make sterilizations legitimate since sterilization in the Czech Republic is legal under certain restrictions. The report also includes detailed summaries of Czechoslovak state policies toward the Roma in the 1970s and 1980s as well as a section on the history of eugenics in Czechoslovakia. The research conducted by the Ombudsman had been proceeded by the discussion between the ombudsman and European Roma Rights Centre (Budapest), the League of Human Rights (Prague/Brno), Life Together (Ostrava) and the Group of Women Harmed by Sterilization (Ostrava). The report is welcomed by the civil society organizations.



Lithuania: medical abortion. In December 2005 Medical Association of Lithuania together with WHO office in Lithuania and Ministry of Health arranged the Round Table discussion on medical abortion in Lithuania. During the meeting information on medical abortion was presented by Gunta Lazdane - WHO Europe Regional adviser, Rodica Comendant - a coordinator of International Consortium of Medical Abortion and Kristina Gemzell Danielsson - professor of Karolinska University Hospital. After the Round Table discussion the participants adopted a statement which they presented to the Minister of Health. They called on MoH to ensure women’s right to choose an alternative abortion method and to review its previous decision to keep the method illegal. The letters with arguments for medical abortion from Reproductive Rights Center and Ipas have been attached.  

Lithuanian daily newspaper informed that the working group formed by the head of Parliamentarian Health Committee for establishment of Artificial fertilization and Embryo protection Draft Laws included a priest and anti-choice representatives. More liberal draft law proposed by the Ministry of Health has not been supported and the restricted Draft Law on Artificial Fertilization has been approved by the Health Committee of Parliament.  

Esmeralda Kuliesyte, Family Planning and Sexual Health Association of Lithuania


Poland: disturbing nomination. The Polish Parliament elected a new Ombudsman for Human Rights – Mr. Janusz Kochanowski, PhD – a highly controversial lawyer from Warsaw University known for his unacceptable for HR lawyers approach to human rights. For example, he is well-known as a supporter of capital punishment and was against gay pride parades, which were banned in some towns in Poland last year.

He is also actively involved in current politics and ran to the European Parliament as a candidate of the present Polish ruling party – Law and Justice (PiS) who nominated him to the Ombudsman position. His nomination raises concerns about his objectiveness and independence from political his  promoters. Human rights organizations and advocates are worried that the status of human rights in Poland might further deteriorate due to this nomination.

Source: Polish ReproNews, 27.01.2006


Russia: plans to launch HIV/AIDS project. The European Union and the World Health Organization plan to launch a $5.4 two-year HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment program which will be implemented in four Russian provinces with a high HIV prevalence, which include Krasnodar, Kaliningrad, Irkutsk and the region of St. Petersburg. EU and WHO pledge respectively 4.8 million and 600,000 USD for enhancing treatment and care services, trainings and other technical support as well as improving the security of blood transfusions.

Source: Kaiser 


Slovakia: church pushes for a treaty with Vatican. The Roman Catholic Church in Slovakia joined the political debate over the treaty with Vatican by urging the politicians not to delay accepting it. According to the treaty, Catholic physicians could refuse to provide abortion or contraceptive services while Catholic teachers could, on the same basis, refuse to carry out sex education classes. The opponents of the treaty point out that it may be incompatible with certain basic principles of the EU. That was also the opinion of the EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights, the author of an "Opinion on the right to conscience objection and the conclusion by EU member states of concordats with Holy See".

Source: CTK News Agency, 1.10.2006


Roundtable on Development and Sexual and Reproductive Health in Riga. Finnish-Baltic Roundtable on Development and Sexual and Reproductive Health was organized in Riga on 23-24 January, 2006. The aim of the conference was to foster the dialogue among policy makers from Finland and the Baltic countries (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) on development cooperation, EU development policies and global SRHR. The meeting created the platform for sharing experience, developing and strengthening  cooperation between different actors and countries.

Among the speakers, besides MPs and governmental officials from Finland and Baltic countries, were representatives of UNFPA, IPPF, European Commission, TRIALOG, Inter-European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development and European Parliament Working Group on Population, Sustainable Development and Reproductive Health and ASTRA.

Among the conference outcomes was the Parliamentary Statement of Commitment signed by MPs participating in the meeting and starting with words: "We, Parliamentarians from Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania gathered in Riga (…) are concerned by the lack of priority dedicated to sexual and reproductive health and rights in our society and globally (…). We, Parliamentarians wish to contribute to raising awareness to solve the main challenges in society by promoting better understanding of sexual and reproductive health and rights issues in the national and European Union development policies…". Full text of the statement is available at:


More information: Hilkka Vuorenmaa (Väestöliitto), e-mail: hilkka.vuorenmaa@vaestoliitto.fi

Source: materials from the meeting






Great Britain: sexual health a key priority for National Health Strategy. As new data showed another rise in HIV and STDs infections in Great Britain, the government decided to place the sexual health needs among seven key priorities for the NHS. According to Public Health Minister Caroline Flint over 300 million pounds will be committed next year for modernizing sexual health services. As stated by the Health Protection Agency the number of people in Great Britain living with HIV is now close to 60,000.
Source: Reuters


Great Britain: parent's right to know case. The High Court in London ruled that parents of the girls under 16 (below the age of sexual consent) do not have the right to know about potential treatment the child is to receive unless the girl decides otherwise. The case was brought by a British woman who has believed that parents should be informed about advice or treatment concerning abortion, contraception or STIS infections before it is provided. The judge explained that forcing a girl to inform parents may push her to make decisions she will regret in the future or to seek a clandestine abortion.

Source: Agence France-Press  


Italy: march for abortion rights. Over 50 thousand Italian women marched in Milan, protesting against the government's attempts to restrict the liberal abortion laws. The protesters also demanded that the Catholic church keep out from politics and stop its campaigns against the 1978 law, according to which abortion is legal in the first trimester of pregnancy. The Ministry of Health’s anti-abortion strategy includes legal amendments that would force women, who seek abortion, to refer for consultation to anti-abortion activists. The present law states that the consultations are obligatory and provided by support centers. The amendment would enable the anti-choice activists to become consultants. As another example of anti-choice government policy one can point to blocking in a Turin hospital the tests on RU486 which had been started in September of last year.

Gazeta Wyborcza

Mexico: Emergency contraception available without prescription. Mexican pharmacies started to sell emergency contraception to minors without prescription. The law that permits it was accepted last year. The law does not require parental consent for adolescents to receive contraception.

Source: Kaiser Daily


Portugal: sexual behavior has not changed. According to a poll published at the end of 2005 60,2% of female respondents and 44% of male respondents said that they have not altered their sexual behavior in order to avoid HIV transmission. 33,5% of respondents said that they never use condoms during sexual relations, while 28,8% do it only in certain circumstances. In 2003 the HIV incidence rate in Portugal was 78.6 cases per million while the average EU incidence rate for the same year was 14.2 cases per million.

Source: Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS report 


BBC World Service Trust: The BBC World Trust decided to abandon HIV prevention campaign in Tanzania rather than to accept the US demand to sign a formal pledge opposing sex work. The Trust had received $4 million fund from USAID for producing radio programs, public service announcements and providing hotlines to help prevent  the spread of HIV infections and AIDS. The Trust officials said that the pledge would oblige them to present a negative image of sex workers and to promote sexual abstinence. They would be also required to inform that condoms fail in as HIV and STIS prevention measures.

Source: Associated Press

European Parliament: resolution on homophobia in Europe. On January 18th the European Parliament voted on the resolution condemning homophobia and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The document passed by a significant majority - 469 votes in favor, 149 against and 41 abstentions. It calls on member states to ensure that LGBT people and same-sex partners enjoy the same rights as the rest of the society. The resolution urges the European Commission to put forward proposals covering all grounds of discrimination in order to ensure that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited in all sectors of life. That should include the freedom of movement for EU citizens and their registered partners of either gender. The resolution called on the Commission to start proceedings against the member states that fail to implement the directive on equal treatment in employment and occupation.

Full text of the resolution is available at:



UN: two gay and lesbian NGOs denied recommendation for consultative status. On January 23rd the UN Committee on Non-governmental Organizations decided not to recommend consultative status with ECOSOC for International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) and Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians. The decision was criticized by the representative of Germany, who named it an act of discrimination and stressed that it was a signal sent to the world that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was acceptable. The Danish representative talking in support of Danish NGO emphasized that it worked in a professional manner and produced valuable work.

Voices against recommending both NGOs for consultative status came from: Cameroon, China, Cuba, Iran, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Senegal, Sudan, US, and Zimbabwe. Voices in favor came from: Chile, France, Germany, Peru and Romania. Colombia, India and Turkey abstained. Cote d'Ivoire was absent.

In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, the coalition of 40 organizations led by Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force "called for an explanation of the US vote which aligned United States with governments that have long repressed the rights of sexual minorities."

Committee on NGOs, Human Rights Watch


UN: Pakistani Rape victim denied chance to speak. Mukhtar Mai, the Pakistani woman who had the courage to break a taboo and, being a victim of a gang-rape, to challenge the rapist in the court, was denied the opportunity to speak at the United Nations. The organizers of her appearance in the UN TV studio were informed the night before the meeting that it  should be postponed because of Pakistan's objection. Pakistan protested that the appearance was scheduled for the same day as the visit of the country's prime minister. Since Mukhtar Mai was leaving NY on Saturday, the event had to be cancelled.

Source: New York Times







European Court of Human Rights: denial of legal abortion before the Court. On February 7 the European Court of Human Rights will hold a hearing on the admissibility and merits of the application submitted by Alicja Tysiąc, a Polish woman who was refused legal abortion although continuation of pregnancy could severely damage her eyesight. 


2006 HIV/AIDS UNGASS. According to the resolution adopted by UN General Assembly in December 2005, the comprehensive review of implementation of the Declaration of Commitments  on HIV/IDS will take place at UN headquarters in New York from May 31st  to June 2nd .  The UN high-level meeting is scheduled for June 2. The resolution invites NGOs in consultative status with Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to participate and establishes a process for accreditation of representatives of other organizations and private sector. 30th March, 2006, is the deadline for NGOs in consultative status to confirm participation.

More information on 2006 HIV/AIDS UNGASS available in the e-Bulletin "Update - 2006 HIV/AIDS UNGASS Review": http://www.astra.org.pl/aids_bull.rtf







Hearing in EU Parliament. The Hearing on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Europe will be organized on February 9th  by Polish Delegation in the Socialist Group of the EP along with ASTRA - Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. The meeting is aimed at developing recommendations  concerning the observance and the advancement of SRHR in the region. During the meeting ASTRA's new report  “Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Europe – Report to the European Union" will be presented. The full announcement and description of the meeting is available at: http://www.astra.org.pl/news.php?id=14


International Seminar on "Ethical Issues in Reproductive Health". The seminar organized by International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) Committee on Reproductive Rights and Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) will be held on 21-24 September. The seminar seeks to bring together population, medical and public-health researchers, bio-ethicists and policy makers in order to clarify ethical questions in reproductive health policies, programs and research. People interested in contributing to the seminar should submit either completed papers, which must be unpublished, or detailed abstracts by 28th February 2006. Full announcement and description of the seminar is available at: http://www.iussp.org/Activities/Submissions/submissions.php.   


Fiftieth Session of CSW. The fiftieth session of the Commission on the Status of Women will be held on 27-10 March. The session will consider following two themes:

·         Enhanced participation of women in development: an enabling environment for achieving gender equality and the advancement of women, taking into account, inter alia, the fields of education, health and work.

·         Equal participation of women and men in decision-making processes at all levels.

The accreditation process for NGOs is already completed.

More information at: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/csw50/sideevents/ngo.htm 


XVI International AIDS conference. The biannual International AIDS Conference will be held in Toronto on 13-18 August, 2006. The theme of the conference is "Time to Deliver". The deadline for abstract submission and workshop proposal is February 22. More information available at: http://www.aids2006.org


Meeting on anti-prostitution pledge directive. According to USAID directive any US organization receiving HIV/AIDS funding from the U.S. government must have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking, even when using private money. The declared lack of guidance and clarity and the constitutional issues raised in the implementation of this policy have resulted in two lawsuits, one by DKT International and the other by the Alliance for Open Society International (OSI). The meeting with attorneys involved in the lawsuits will take place on February 9 in Global Health Center in Washington, D.C.






HIV/AIDS data. This new Web site, operated by the Kaiser Family Foundation, provides regularly updated data on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other emerging health issues at the country and regional levels. Data is available in charts, tables and maps and can be downloaded for analysis. The Web site also provides information on programs, funding levels and demographics and the economy: http://www.globalhealthfacts.org





HIV/AIDS in Europe - WHO report. The WHO report "HIV/AIDS in Europe: Moving from death sentence to chronic disease management", 2006, tells the story of the epidemic from a broad variety of perspectives: biomedical, social, cultural, economic and political. The authors are leading experts from across the Region and include both the infected and the affected, be they doctors or former drug users, United Nations employees or gay men, public health researchers or community activists.
The publication not only analyses the past and surveys the present, but suggest how to move
forward towards two fundamental goals: universal treatment and halting the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The full text of the publication is available at WHO Regional Office for Europe website:


The World's Women 2005: Progress in Statistics. The report published in January 2006 by United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs uniquely reviews and analyses the current availability of data and assesses progress made in the reporting of national statistics, as opposed to internationally prepared estimates, relevant to gender concerns. Analyzing statistics reported by 204 countries during the past 30 years, The World's Women 2005 sets out a blueprint for improving the availability of data in the areas of demographics, health, education, work, violence against women, poverty, decision-making and human rights.

The full text of the report is available at: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/indwm/wwpub.htm


World Report 2006 by Human Rights Watch. The Human Rights Watch World Report 2006 containing information on human rights developments in more than 60 countries in 2005 is available at: http://hrw.org/wr2k6/


Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Europe. The report "Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Europe" issued by ASTRA Network and addressed to European Union provides basic information on family planning, abortion, HIV/AIDS and reproductive health and rights of adolescents in 12 countries: Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine. The report is available at: http://www.astra.org.pl/srhrEU.pdf

The hard copy could be requested at ASTRA Network secretariat: inf@astra.org.pl


Business and HIV/AIDS. The report "Business & HIV/AIDS: A Healthier Partnership?" published by World Economic Forum in 2006 provides an overview of business perceptions and responses to HIV/AIDS. It draws

on data from three sources: the 2005-2006 Executive Opinion Survey conducted by the World Economic Forum as part of its annual Global Competitiveness Report; case studies of business action on HIV/AIDS developed by the World Economic Forum’s Global Health Initiative; and a survey of US business leaders commissioned by The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR).

The executive summary of the report is available at: http://www.weforum.org/pdf/Initiatives/gbs2006_summary.pdf and full report at: http://www.weforum.org/pdf/Initiatives/gbs2006_report.pdf


Youth Participation at Reprolatina. A Case Study from Southeastern Brazil "Side by Side: Building and Sustaining a Culture of Youth Participation at Reprolatina" is a publication intended for use by organizations, policymakers, educators, activists, professionals, donors, and international agencies who wish to engage young people as protagonists as well as beneficiaries in their institutions, programs, advocacy, and movements. SIDE BY SIDE is a case study of effective youth participation at Reprolatina, a sexual and reproductive health and rights NGO based in Southeastern Brazil. Drawing on interviews and observations conducted over several weeks, it recounts Reprolatina's experience translating a commitment to youth participation into a daily process of youth-adult partnership in the staff's own words.

The publication is available at in PDF at:  www.iwhc.org/resources/sidebyside.cfm. Copies are also available from IWHC.


2006 HIV/AIDS UNGASS Review. "Update - 2006 HIV/AIDS UNGASS Review, No. 1" - The e-Bulletin produced by Family Care International and International Health Coalition shares information about important events and initiatives related to HIV/AIDS in 2006 and identifies key opportunities for advocacy. The bulletin is available at: http://www.astra.org.pl/aids_bull.rtf