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The Brief: MEPs vote to condemn Poland's anti-sex education bill

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The Brief: MEPs vote to condemn Poland's anti-sex education bill
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Members of the European Parliament have voted to condemn a a bill in Poland which they believe will criminalize sex education in schools.

It’s one line of the bill in particular, that a majority of MEPs took issue with:

Anyone who promotes or approves sexual intercourse or other sexual activity by a minor, in connection with performing the position, occupation or performing activities related to upbringing, education, health care or care of minors, or operating on school premises or other educational or child care institution, is liable to imprisonment up to 3 years.

The Polish government insists this legislation is to protect vulnerable children from pedophilia.

"This paragraph is under the header ‘Stop pedophilia’. This law doesn’t speak about any education issues. It only prohibits promoting pedophilia,” Polish MEP Beata Kempa insists.

However, MEPs disagreed.

With 471 votes in favour, 128 against and 57 abstentions, the text adopted by MEPs criticized the Polish bill that would criminalize and effectively ban sex education in schools.

The text states, “...sexual health is fundamental to the overall health and wellbeing of individuals, couples and families, in addition to the social and economic development of communities and countries, and that access to health, including sexual and reproductive health, is a human right.”

Critics of the bill believe that barring sex education in the classroom would only result in young people being misinformed in regards to their sexual health and the further stigmatization of sex.

Sex education experts agree that removing age appropriate lessons from schools would have a dangerous effect.

"In quite a short time you will see an increase in STIs, in teenage pregnancies, in sexual violence among young people. You will see an even more increase [in] homo- and transphobia leading to more depression and suicides a month LGBT," said Wannes Magits, a sex education expert at Sensoa.

The adopted text by Parliament also acknowledged the importance of sex education especially for girls and LGBTI children who are “particularly impacted by inequitable gender norms” and most hurt by the lack of sex education.

In the conclusion of the text, the European Parliament calls on other EU governments to condemn Poland, as well as demands the European Commission address the violation of human rights the Polish government would be committing by implementing the bill.

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