Romania’s parliament has scrapped compulsory sex education in schools, following pressure from the influential Romanian Orthodox Church which called it an attack on childhood innocence.
The Catholic Church in Romania added its voice to the debate, saying parents not schools should teach sex education to their children.
Lawmakers from the center-right governing Liberal Party and the opposition Social Democrats which are socially conservative voted 269-3 with 35 abstentions in favor of the amendment on Wednesday, proposed by members of both parties.
The decision comes two months after a parliament passed a bill which obliged schools to offer sex education to pupils at least once every six months. President Klaus Iohannis signed the bill into law.
Gynecologists and obstetricians approve schools teaching sex education in a country with a high number of teen births.
The previous version told schools to “systematically roll out … at least once every semester, educational programs for life, including sex education for children, in order to prevent the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy in minors”.
The amended law, which Iohannis needs to sign off on, no longer mentions “sex education” and instead speak of “education for life, including health education, in order to prevent the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy in minors”.
Parents must also give written consent for the courses, meaning that the lessons won’t be compulsory.
The change came after the Orthodox Church, to which more than 85 per cent of Romanians belong, condemned the original law as “an attack on the innocence of children” and invoked children’s rights and freedom of conscience to ask for the law to be amended.
The Catholic Church in Romania also protested the law, saying it stripped parents of the right to educate their children.
According to Eurostat, Romania and neighbor Bulgaria have the highest proportions of teenage mothers in the EU.
In 2017, 12.1% of total births of first children in Romania were to mothers under 20, the said European Union statistics agency said.