Slovak parliament rejects women’s rights convention over gender ideology concerns

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Shortly before Feb. 29 general elections, the Slovak parliament rejected the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women by a crushing majority of votes, with many expressing concern that the document promoted a left-wing ideology at odds with Slovak society.

Slovak politicians indicated that several provisions of the convention clashed with Slovakia’s constitution, particularly regarding the definition of marriage between a man and a woman, and concerns that the document was promoting “gender ideology”.

Although Slovakia signed the Istanbul Convention in 2011, until Tuesday, the MPs have not yet voted on ratification of the document.

In recent weeks, the head of the Slovak Parliament, Andrej Danko, has repeatedly criticized Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová for avoiding notifying the Council of Europe and the European Union of Slovakia’s opposition to the convention.

Čaputová had earlier said that she would respect parliament’s vote on the document.

Last year, although the Slovak parliament passed two resolutions against the Istanbul Convention, according to the Slovak president, these resolutions were political declarations and not a vote on the document itself.

Earlier this month, hundreds of Christians protested in the center of Bratislava against the convention, which first began collecting signatures in 2011 in Istanbul.

A number of countries have opposed the Istanbul Convention

The Istanbul Convention condemns domestic violence, sexual harassment, rape, forced marriage, so-called “honor crimes” or female genital mutilation. In the document, countries commit themselves to legalizing steps against violent attacks and prevention, but also to allocating money to help the victims.

While many conservatives agree with large portions of the document, they have raised concerns about certain sections.

According to Slovak critics of the convention, the document contradicts the definition of marriage as a union of men and women defined in the Slovak constitution and concentrates on “gender ideology” instead.

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church has also protested the treaty, saying it would lead to “moral decay” after it raised the same concerns as Slovak politicians who voted against it.

Other countries have seen protests against the convention, including in Croatia and Latvia.

The Czech Republic also signed the convention in 2016, and the document has also provoked different reactions among Czech politicians.

The Czech Republic is one of the countries that have not yet ratified the document. According to its conservatives and representatives of the Catholic Church critical of the treaty, there is no need for such a convention as it would pit men and women against each other.

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