Vying with Poland and Hungary, the Romanian Parliament adopted an amendment to the National Education Law seeking to prohibit information on gender identity in schools, universities and other educational spaces. The amendment positions gender as an ideological invention and bans “theories and opinion on gender where it is a separate concept from biological sex”. The amendment would ban teachers, school counselors, academics, doctors, social workers and non-governmental organizations from discussing topics related to gender, gender equality or transgender issues. It outlaws “sex proselytism” and “proselytism” in favour of “gender ideology”: only biological sex exists, gender is an ideological invention. This would have a significant impact on academic freedom, the provision of CSE, transgender peoples’ rights and women’s rights including survivors of gender-based violence.
Romanian academics, students and human rights groups have condemned a new law banning gender identity studies in schools and universities and accused lawmakers of wanting to send the country’s education “back to the Middle Ages”. Several higher education institutions have harshly condemned the legislation, including the University of Bucharest, saying that “it contradicts fundamental rights guaranteed by the Romania Constitution and international conventions of which Romania is a party to”.
As a result of the turmoil created around this hot topic, numerous organizations consider that the Romanian Parliament makes a serious interference on several rights and fundamental freedoms, unjustifiably marginalizing a category of vulnerable groups. Given these concerns, the NGOs, including Romanian ASTRA members, have asked the President of Romania to send the bill for re-examination to the Romanian Parliament and, if necessary, to challenge the normative act to the Romanian Constitutional Court.
The legislation would have to be approved by President Klaus Iohannis, but he has announced that he will not sign the bill, but either send it back to parliament for revision or challenge it with the constitutional court – as he did for the amendment to ban sexuality education without parental consent.
Lots of advocacy actions have been taken by friendly European organizations, such as:
- ASTRA members have supported their Romanian colleagues’ in their advocacy
- EPF coordinated a letter by MEPs for SRR and MPs across Europe. MEPs from the LGBTI Intergroup also sent a letter to the President.
- IPPF EN has signed a letter (attached) to the President along with other European NGOs
- There was a protest in front of the presidential palace: ‘People carrying banners and wearing masks — some with an “x” taped across them — attended an hour-long rally outside the official residence of President Klaus Iohannis, calling on him to refrain from signing the bill and send it back to parliament. The flash mob was attended by over 150 persons who took great personal risk, as protest activities are banned in Romania during the pandemic and all participants risk steep fines’.
- A strong and very well documented letter was sent by Ms Genoveva Tisheva- International expert on Gender equality and Women’s Rights, Director of the Women’s Human Rights Training Institute, Member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women /CEDAW/, Chair of the Working group on GBV against women, appealing to the Romanian president to not allow the Law 87/ 17.02.2020: containing a Proposal to modify and complete the Law Regarding National Education nr.1/ 2011 to be passed and promulgated in Romania.