471 Members of the European Parliament voted in favour of a resolution criticising the “Stop paedophilia” bill, whose purpose is to protect children from excessive sexualisation and paedophilic acts. The resolution contains false information on the proposed provisions and promotes compulsory, vulgar sexual education and what it refers to as the right to abortion.
The resolution on the criminalisation of sexual education in Poland adopted by the European Parliament contains baseless accusations according to which the bill actually harms children and teachers. European MPs stated that “such provisions would effectively criminalise the provision of comprehensive sexuality education to minors under the guise of preventing paedophilia, which would have an impact on, inter alia, educators, activists, healthcare providers, psychologists, publishers and journalists and even parents or legal guardians” (pt F).
It is important to remember that (ideally) no sexual education programme, even those of the permissive variety, should ever encourage children and young people to become sexually active. Permissive sexual education rather assumes that minors are already having sex. Thus, it is not true that the adoption of the “Stop paedophilia” bill would lead to the criminalisation of sexual education.
Furthermore, it is noteworthy that the resolution lists allegedly mistreated “educators and activists” first, as well as expressing concern regarding the lack of support for sexual educators (pt 2). This is an attempt at legitimising the actions of such people, even though, in practice, they visit schools and teach various classes which violate Polish education laws (e.g. by teaching without the knowledge and consent of parents). It is also a lie that parents and legal guardians would be criminally liable.
It is also worth noting that “comprehensive sexual education” is understood by the European Parliament as one which is based on the sexual education standards created by the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the German Federal Centre for Health Education (resolution preamble). The document accuses Poland of failing to uphold these standards, but it is important to note that they are in no way legally binding. In addition, it is not true that passing the “Stop paedophilia” bill would equal a lack of information about human sexuality (pt 5). The sexual education curriculum is created by the Polish authorities, and matters related to human sexuality are taught as part of “Family life education” classes.
Other points of the resolution contradict the point of the document. First, the MPs claim that “comprehensive sexuality education is a curriculum-based process of teaching and learning about the cognitive, emotional, physical and social aspects of sexuality, and aims to equip children and young people with knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that will empower them to safeguard their health, wellbeing and dignity” (pt J). However, the criticisms of the “Stop paedophilia” act which can be found in the document also suggest that the European Parliament wants to protect the dignity of children and young people by encouraging them to be sexually active.
In addition, one of the arguments for a permissive sexual education and against the “Stop paedophilia” bill is the necessity to eliminate “preventable maternal deaths” (pt K). In this context, it is worth remembering that pregnancies in women who are too young bear increased risk of complications, both for the mother and the child. The only safe and effective form of contraception is still sexual abstinence.
Second, the MPs use the term “right to abortion” (which is part of “sexual and reproductive health and rights”), which does exist in Polish or international law (pt M). What is more, the European Parliament “reiterates” that the ability to kill an unborn baby is... “essential for the creation of a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, in addition to the possibility of having safe sexual experiences, free from coercion, discrimination and violence”. According to the European MPs, prenatal murder is thus free from violence.
Finally, it is important to mention that the European Parliament openly interferes in the Polish legislative process, calling upon the Polish Parliament to abandon the “Stop paedophilia” bill (pt 9), despite the fact that this matter is outside the scope of EU law and that every member state has complete sovereignty in matters of criminal law. In addition, the Council is called upon to “address this matter and other allegations of violations of fundamental rights in Poland in the context of its current hearings on the situation in Poland, in accordance with Article 7(1) TEU” (pt 10). Thus, the prohibition of encouraging young people to become sexually active is equated with the changes in the Polish judiciary, even going as far as to imply that it is equal to violating fundamental human rights.
The authors of the resolution refer to the Polish Constitution on multiple occasions, the implication being that the “Stop paedophilia” bill is unconstitutional. At the same time, they completely disregard the fact that Article 72, Section 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland stipulates that everyone has the right to demand that the state protect children from demoralisation. The term “child” is clearly defined in Polish law – children are people under 18 years of age, as emphasised by both the judicial practice of the Constitutional Tribunal and by legal scholars. The Act on the Ombudsman for Children uses the same definition, and the Act on juvenile delinquency proceedings is aimed at protecting people under 18 from demoralisation. Thus, the “Stop paedophilia” bill is compliant with the Polish Constitution, and can be understood as complementing already existing laws.
The adoption of the resolution was preceded by a debate which took place in the European Parliament several weeks ago, during which Robert Biedroń, its initiator, scandalously remarked that the bill was drafted “under the direction of the paedophile lobby”. An analysis of the resolution begets the following question: is it truly the European MPs who are acting in the interest of children and young people?
Authors: Magdalena Olek, Bartosz Zalewski
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