Romanian human rights groups and universities on Wednesday condemned a ban on gender identity studies approved by lawmakers which they said would legitimize discrimination against the country’s LGBT minority.
The Senate passed the amendment to the education law on Tuesday, without public debate in a move that would take Romanian education “back to the Middle Ages,” student associations said in a statement.
They urged Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis not to sign the bill into law.
MozaiQ, a LGBTI rights group said the bill “further marginalizes the transgender community that is already experiencing discrimination, with one in five transgender people in Romania experiencing physical or sexual attacks,” based on a 2020 Fundamental Rights Agency report.
“I feel angry, I feel erased, the Romanian state is telling me, a transgender Roma woman, that I do not exist! No, politicians do not have the right to decide about my identity,” said Antonella Lerca Duda, a board member of MozaiQ, who is also the chair of SWC, an organization fighting for sex workers’ rights.
If signed into law, it would effectively end already approved university courses on women’s rights and equal opportunities but also severely curtail studies on sexual and health education.
Socially conservative Romania decriminalized homosexuality in 2001, and is one of only several EU states that bar marriage and civil partnerships for same sex couples and don’t even recognize same-sex unions from other countries.
Romania historically has had the highest rate of teenage births in Europe.
“By banning conversations about the difference between gender and biological sex, the Romanian state enforces a hostile climate for LGBTI teens; currently nearly one in two 2 LGBTI youth is hiding their gender identity or sexual orientation when in school,” a statement said.
It said the development “sets Romania on a path similar to … Poland and Hungary, who have taken steps to restrict transgender rights and suppress public discussions on gender.”