Romania’s Orthodox Church has spoken out again against efforts to overturn a law and make sex education compulsory in schools across the country again.
The powerful church calls mandatory sex education an attack on childhood innocence.
The church likely wants to make sure the current Parliament doesn’t do another U-turn as it did last year when it scrapped compulsory sex education.
Non-governmental groups have lobbied for Romania to make sex education compulsory in line with other European Union members.
Romania’s political parties do not have a clear position on the issue, even within their own parties. This makes it an unpredictable and touchy topic in socially conservative Romania.
The law has already been rolled back once in June 2020 after pressure from the church.
However, there may be support to bring back compulsory sex education in the current Parliament. Lawmakers would likely have a free vote.
Liberal Party leader Ludovic Orban on Tuesday referred to the complications.
„It’s an issue of conscience and it’s very hard to present a coalition-level position (or) a united view” he said. ”Various points of view have been expressed” he added tersely.
Foreseeing the complications, the church on Tuesday reiterated its opposition.
It said it “considers making sex education compulsory…. an attack of children’s innocence. It stops them developing naturally and marks them for the rest of their lives”.
It said there was pressure from non-governmental groups “to introduce ex education in the school curriculum. This would “ignore or go against parents’ wishes and their constitutional rights about educating their own children”
Romania’s Parliament voted in June 2020 to scrap compulsory “sexual education”
Lawmakers from both the center-right National Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party, which is socially conservative voted for the amendment.
There are two factions within the ruling Liberal Party_ a conservative wing and a more broadly liberal wing.
„We need some kind of balance that satisfies parents who are worried about education being used in a wrong way in schools and those who rightly say there is a need for education (in schools),” Mr Orban said.
The reversal last June came after a legislative order meant schools had to offer sexual education to children at least twice a year.
The previous law obliged schools to “systematically roll out … at least once every term educational programs for life, including sexual education for children. (This is ) in order to prevent the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy in minors”.
The current law refers to education for life, including health education, in order to prevent the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy in minors”.
Parents have to give written consent for their children to be taught the courses.
The Orthodox Church, to which more than 85 percent of Romanians belong, said it considered the original law was “an attack on the innocence of children” . It also invoked children’s rights.
According to the EU statistics agency Eurostat, Romania and its neighbor Bulgaria have the highest proportions of teenage mothers in the EU.
However, the church said that mentioning teenage mother was “a dogged attempt to manipulate (the situation), when in reality the real causes of these sad (things), which aren’t natural, are the breakup of families and pupils dropping out of school”.