Romania’s Senate has joined Hungary in prohibiting any reference to gender identity as a separate one from biological gender, thereby effectively banning gender studies in the country, news portal G4media reported.
The Romanian Senate approved the new law by adding an amendment on June 16 to an education bill, becoming the second Central European country to do so after Hungary which did the same in 2018.
The amendment adds a new section e) to article 7, paragraph 1 of the education bill which prohibits “activities to spread the theory or opinion of gender identity, understood as the theory or opinion that gender is a different concept from biological sex and that the two are not always the same”.
The amendment was introduced by the center-right People’s Movement Party (PMP) just half an hour before the session of the Senate and was approved by a wide margin with the support of the Social-Democrat Party (PSD), resulting in the amendment receiving 81 yes votes, 21 no votes, and 27 abstentions.
Gender studies has for years been opposed by the Romanian Orthodox Church, which claims 81 percent of the country’s population as members from a total of 19.5 million people. The sponsor of the amendment was Senator Vasile Cristian Lungu, graduate of the Orthodox Theological Seminary in the Transylvania town of Zilah (Zalău in Romanian), who has a degree in special psychology from Loyola University, a Catholic research university based in Chicago, Illinois.
Hungary also banned gender studies in the summer of 2018, but while the ban was subject to vehement attacks from liberal media both at home and abroad, its actual effect was limited since at the time only two universities in the country offered master-level gender studies as opposed to several dozen such gender studies programs in Romania.
The Romanian amendment now only requires President Klaus Iohannis’ signature, with several civil and gender rights groups calling him not to sign it.
Central Europe increasingly taking a conservative stance on hot-button social issues
Earlier this year, Hungary also passed an amendment of the administrative law, effectively making birth gender unalterable in official documents such as driver’s licenses and identification cards. The new law means that even for those who perform gender reassignment surgery will not be recognized as having changed their gender, as gender is determined at birth and based on chromosomes.
In Poland, President Andrzej Duda, who is currently running for a second term, is a strong opponent of LGBT ideology and is promoting a “Family Charter”, promising to “ban the propagation of LGBT ideology in public institutions”.
Duda said this week while on the campaign trail for presidential elections later this month “that they are trying to persuade us that LGBT is a category of people, but it’s an ideology”. Although there was fierce backlash from liberal media outlets against his statements, Poles largely agree with his stance on LGBT issues.
For example, this week, a poll conducted by Polish media outlet Do Rzeczy showed that 62 percent of Poles are opposed to same-sex marriage while only 22 percent said they supported the idea.
Other countries in the region are taking a more conservative stance on social issues as well. This week, Latvia joined Hungary, Poland and other Central European countries in questioning the gender and pro-migration ideologies promoted by the Istanbul Convention, with conservative parties calling for a constitutional probe into the convention to determine whether it is legal.
Title image: A protester wears a face mask outside the presidential palace in Bucharest, Romania, Thursday, June 18, 2020, during a rally against a law banning the teaching of gender studies. Dozens of protesters gathered outside Bucharest’s Cotroceni Presidential Palace, to express their opposition to a law banning the teaching of gender studies in the country’s schools and universities and call on President Klaus Iohannis to reject signing the bill and send it back to parliament. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)