Poland looks set to make another swing to the far-right as lawmakers prepare to vote on a new bill that would make it illegal to teach schoolchildren about sex of any kind.
If it is passed, it will criminalise sex education, and those deemed to be “promoting underage sex” in schools could face three years behind bars.
The ‘Stop Paedophilia’ bill, initiated by citizens after a petition received 250,000 signatures, has been largely fuelled by the groundswell of homophobia that’s been building in the socially conservative European country over the last couple of years.
Authors of the bill assert that those who teach children about sex also “groom and familiarise children with homosexuality”.
“The organisations and activists most involved in the promotion of sexual ‘education’ in our country are the LGBT+ lobby,” a document sent to parliament reads.
“In Western Europe, members of these movements involved in implementing sex education in schools were convicted of paedophilia.”
The document also claims that sex education lessons are part of the LGBTQ agenda to “achieve radical political goals”.
Schools do not usually teach formal sex education, instead offering lessons about "preparing for family life". A World Health Organization-approved plan to teach a sex education programme (including discussion of sexual orientation) in opposition-ruled Warsaw was condemned as an assault on traditional Catholic values.
Of course, the conflation of paedophilia and homosexuality is nothing new, often used as an argument against equality by anti-LGBTQ voices, but Polish activists are worried that the new bill will also affect those who teach about reproductive health or even discrimination itself.
Recently, a court cleared an advert stating “Paedophilia is 20 times more common in homosexuals” of any wrongdoing. The advert also said, “They want to teach your children. Stop them!”
The court said the message was “informative and educational”.
The ‘Stop Paedophilia’ bill has been formally condemned by the EU, but will be considered today in parliament. It may be rejected entirely, required to be worked upon, or taken forwards for a second reading.
The country’s ruling party, PiS (Law and Justice), has had a majority since 2015, but, with its popularity waning, has recently attempted to court favour by adopting a more outspoken anti-LGBTQ stance.
It has stoked public opinion that sexual and gender identity minorities are the result of foreign influences and not in line with Poland’s national identity. Worryingly, a third of the country has now pledged to become "LGBT-free".
The Polish parliament has also debated an anti-abortion bill this week, with pro-choice activists accusing politicians of taking advantage of the current coronavirus crisis which limits the movement of protestors and demonstrators.