Romania’s president says a bill that would ban the teaching of gender studies in the country’s schools and universities is “discriminatory” and asked the country’s Constitutional Court, to declare it unconstitutional.
The Senate passed the amendment to the education law on June 16 without public debate in a move that was criticized by student bodies, academics and LGBTI-rights organizations who said it would restrict studies and had no scientific basis.
Dozens of lawmakers from the European Parliament also wrote to President Klaus Iohannis asking him not to sign into law the bill which critics said would send the country’s education „back to the Middle Ages.”
On Friday, Iohannis said the bill “contravened individual freedom of conscience in a way that …. will limit the freedom of thought and opinion.”
He said the law was trying to come up with a legal definition for the thought process, but “freedom of conscience is manifested through the individual judgement of a person.”
The president called the law „discriminatory,” which limited students’ access to education.
Socially conservative Romania decriminalized homosexuality in 2001 and is one of only several EU states that bars marriage and civil partnerships for same sex couples and doesn’t even recognize same-sex unions from other countries.
Romanian human rights groups have also said a ban on gender identity studies would legitimize discrimination against the country’s LGBT minority.
Iohannis who is socially liberal and ran on ticket to reform and modernize Romania, was expected to contest the bill.
According to the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, Romania faces a significant problem regarding the protection of its LGBTI population from discrimination and violence. It is, together with Poland, the EU country registering the highest rate of physical or sexual assaults of LGBTI persons in the last five years.