Dozens of lawmakers from the European Parliament have written to Romania’s president asking him not to sign into law a bill that would ban gender identity studies in schools and universities and send the country’s education „back to the Middle Ages,” according to critics.
Sixty-four lawmakers appealed to President Iohannis, saying if signed into law, the bill “would further endanger the lives of men, women and girls, transgender and gender-diverse persons, since denying the reality of gender is failing to acknowledge the social realities lived by different people on the basis of their gender,” a statement dated June 24 said.
“In particular, this bill may have a catastrophic impact on the lives of trans persons, who are already victims of intense discrimination in Romania. „
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.
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 said a ban on gender identity studies would legitimize discrimination against the country’s LGBT minority.
They also urged Iohannis not to sign the bill into law. Iohannis has not spoken publicly on the bill, but is has been reported that the president, who used to head the Liberal Party, will send it back to Parliament.
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.
“It is equally among the five countries in Europe where the majority of the LGBTI population is almost or never open about being LGBTI,” the statement from the lawmakers said.
The bill reads: “in the units, in the educational institutions and in all the spaces destined to the vocational education and training, including in the extracurricular education activities education are prohibited: e) activities in order to spread the theory or opinion of gender identity, understood as the theory of opinion that gender is a concept different from biological sex and that gender and sex are not always the same thing”