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Polish lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban sex education by labeling its teachers as gay activists and pedophiles.
The “Stop Pedophilia” bill has been sent to a committee in Poland’s parliament after lawmakers voted against removing it from consideration last week.
The bill was introduced via a method enshrined in Poland’s constitution, which allows citizens to submit legislation for consideration if it attains 100,000 signatures.
If ultimately passed into law, the legislation would essentially criminalize sex education in Polish schools by jailing for three years anyone who promotes underage sex, Reuters reports.
Those backing the bill directly correlated efforts to teach sex education with LGBTQ people, while also linking gay people to pedophilia.
“The organizations and activists most involved in the promotion of sexual ‘education’ in our country are the LGBT lobby,” the backers wrote in a document submitted to parliament. “In Western Europe, members of these movements involved in implementing sex education in schools were convicted of pedophilia.”
They claim that sex education lessons lead to children becoming “sexually awakened and familiarized with homosexuality,” and that such lessons are used “by the LGBT lobby to achieve radical political goals.”
But critics say that the legislation could be used to further persecute Poland’s LGBTQ community, which already finds itself under assault in the staunchly conservative nation.
Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party has been criticized for debating the measures in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, particularly as those opposed to the bill are unable to demonstrate due to bans on mass gatherings.
Ola Kaczorek, co-president of LGBTQ family groups Love Does Not Exclude Association, told Reuters that the bill would make it “impossible for us as educators to come into schools and teach kids about humans, about what makes us us, and what’s gender identity or sexual orientation.”
“Usually school is not a friendly environment for non-heterosexual kids, but now it will be even harder,” Kaczorek said.
Draginja Nadazdin, director of Amnesty International in Poland, said the bills were “draconian.”
“Attempting to pass these recklessly retrogressive laws at any time would be shameful, but to rush them through under the cover of the COVID-19 crisis is unconscionable,” Nadazdin said.
The Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, Dunja Mijatović, also criticized the timing of the bill’s debate, saying that “in this extraordinary time of the COVID-19 pandemic, politicians and decision-makers must resist the temptation to push through measures that are incompatible with human rights.”
During last year’s elections, the party portrayed LGBTQ rights as dangerous “foreign” ideas that undermine traditional values in the heavily Catholic country.
Law and Justice Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has urged Poles to vote for “the only party that gives a 100% guarantee that our values will be protected,” adding that support for LGBTQ rights poses a “real threat to our identity, to our nation.”
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