Protesters call on Romania's president to reject gender studies ban


World, Europe

Romania’s parliament had approved the bill to ban gender studies bill on Tuesday

A protester stands outside the presidential palace in Bucharest, Romania, Thursday, June 18, 2020, during a rally against a law banning the teaching of gender studies. (AP)

Bucharest: Dozens of protesters gathered Thursday in Romania’s capital to express their opposition to a law banning the teaching of gender studies in the country’s schools and universities.

People carrying banners and wearing masks — some with an “x” taped across them — attended the hour-long rally outside Bucharest’s Cotroceni Palace, the official residence of President Klaus Iohannis, calling on him to refrain from signing the bill and send it back to parliament, which approved the legislation Tuesday.

Some of the banners read: “This is an attack on the autonomy of the universities,” “Open minds not closed doors” and “Biological sex is not gender identity.”

“We think this is an assault against the transgender community in Romania,” said Vlad Viski, president of MozaiQ, an LGBT organization. “All in all, approximately 12 articles of the constitution are violated if this law passes.”

The law has been also strongly criticized by several Romanian universities and student organizations, which see it as an attack on academic freedoms and human rights.

Neighbouring Hungary passed similar legislation in 2018, removing accreditation and funding for gender studies at the university level. Hungary recently also banned transgender people from changing their gender on official documents.

In nearby Poland, meanwhile, President Andrzej Duda, who is seeking a second term in an election next week, has described the LGBT rights movement as more dangerous than communism and signed a “Family Charter” that pledges to “ban the propagation of LGBT ideology in public institutions” and oppose same-sex marriages and adoption.