POLAND – Bill to ban sex education and criminalise “promotion of underage sexual activity” sent to a commission for further work

The Ponton Group of Sex Educators in Poland and other media report that the ruling PiS party introduced a bill in the SEJM (parliament) which had its first reading on 15 October, arising from the so-called “Stop Paedophilia” project. The bill assumes a change in the provision of Article 200b of the Penal Code (Art. 200b. Whoever publicly promotes or approves paedophile behaviour shall be subject to a fine, the penalty of restriction of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 2 years.) However, the provision is to be extended by three paragraphs aimed at attacking all those providing sex education in Poland – parents, doctors, educators, teachers – stated explicitly in an explanatory memorandum of the Act.

The proposed Article 200b(4) says: “Whoever promotes or condones engaging in sexual intercourse or any other sexual activity by a minor, while acting in connection with holding a position, exercising a profession or activity related to education, treatment or care of minors, or acting on the premises of a school or other institution or educational and care facility, shall be subject to the penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to 3 years.” In short, this would ban providing or promoting sexuality education or e.g. information/contraceptive methods by a healthcare provider. Yet Article 4 of the Act of 7 January 1993 on Family Planning, Protection of the Human Fetus and the Conditions for Permissibility of Termination of Pregnancy stipulates that: “school curricula shall include knowledge about human sexual life, the principles of conscious and responsible parenthood, the value of family, life in the prenatal phase and methods and means of conscious procreation.” And the age of consent is 15.

The bill was introduced after a six-month right-wing campaign equating LGBTI people with paedophiles. PiS officials have called LGBTI rights an invasive foreign influence as part of a culture and civilisation war that threatens Poland’s national identity.

Hundreds of people joining protest rallies outside the Sejm and across the country as on 16 October 2019. The bill was due to go to the Senate on 18 October, had it passed. Instead, it was sent to a commission for further work. As PiS no longer has a majority in the upper house, the bill may be dead.

Many Polish schools do not offer formal sex education, instead teaching students how to “prepare for family life”. Some cities run by more liberal parties have allowed formal sexuality education programmes in schools, which is partly blamed for having caused this backlash.

PiS have condemned previous attempts to broaden sex education in Poland, claiming such efforts would “sexualize” children. The campaign “Stop Sexualization of Youth” has previously claimed that sex education “promotes sexual activity among the youth,” according to the Wprost report – a claim that has been shown to be false everywhere research has been done. Supporters of comprehensive sex education argue that appropriate sex education is a necessary part of the school curriculum, based on World Health Organization standards for Europe.

SOURCES: Ponton Group of Sex Educators, 18 October 2019 ;  Al Jazeera, 16 October 2019 ; Amnesty International, 16 October 2019 ; dw, by Elliot Douglas, 16 October 2019 ; Reuters, 16 October 2019 ;  PHOTO (top) ; PHOTO (middle) ; PHOTO (end) ; MORE PHOTOS: here and here