At the initiative of the Socialist and Democrats, the European Parliament today called on the Polish conservative government and the Polish parliament to stop legislation that seeks to criminalise the provision of comprehensive sexuality education to minors under the guise of preventing paedophilia. If adopted, the bill would affect teachers, healthcare providers, journalists and even parents, threatening them with a penalty in prison for providing sexuality education, including information on contraception or the risks of sexual exploitation.

If adopted, the legislation would not only go against the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and international standards, but also the 2013 EU Directive that calls on member states, including Poland, to take steps to reduce the risk of children becoming victims of sexual abuse or exploitation.

In the text adopted by 471 votes in favour, 128 against and 57 abstentions, MEPs criticise a draft law that seeks to make the provision of sex education to minors a crime in Poland. This initiative to amend a Polish law against paedophilia threatens teachers with up to three years in prison and increasing this penalty to five years has been proposed.

The European Parliament condemns the shift in Poland towards misinforming young people, and stigmatising and banning sexuality in education. It calls on the Polish Parliament to refrain from adopting the bill, which follows recent attempts to limit sexual and reproductive rights in Poland, including the right to abortion.

Protect young people from abuse through better education

The resolution encourages all EU countries to provide comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education in schools. MEPs stress that lack of information and education about sex and sexuality puts the safety and wellbeing of young people at risk and makes them more vulnerable to sexual exploitation, abuse and violence, including online harassment.

Teaching young people about gender equality, consent and mutual respect can help to prevent and combat gender stereotypes, homophobia, transphobia and gender-based violence, say MEPs.

Recognising the important role of civil society in providing sex education, MEPs call for these organisations to be adequately funded at EU level, be it through the 2021 – 2027 Rights and Values programme or other EU pilot projects. They also call on the Council to address the Polish draft law in the Article 7 (1) related hearings.

S&Ds: Education does not mean sexualisation!

“The proposed bill is utterly shameful and I am proud that, under the leadership of the Socialists and Democrats, this chamber condemned it. Under the false guise of preventing paedophilia, Polish conservatives would like to ban sexual education from schools and impose their backwards views on reproductive health. We urge Poland to refrain from adopting a law that takes the country back to the dark ages, that contravenes fundamental rights and freedoms,” said Evelyn Regner, chair of the European Parliament FEMM committee and the S&D negotiator of the resolution.

“Providing comprehensive sexual education to young people is not a crime, but an essential part of education! Through the internet children today are continuously exposed to an enormous amount of information, and can also suffer from pressure built up by peers and influencers on social media platforms. If we ban sexual education, delivered by teachers and other professionals, we are abandoning our children and leaving them isolated during one of their most crucial and complicated stages of adolescence. As a mother, I want my children to develop a healthy and positive image towards their bodies and relationships. This needs strong families, understanding teachers and professional educators,” said Regner.

“With 25 years of experience as a doctor, and a longstanding former member of the Health Commission of the Romanian Parliament, I can say without a doubt that it is extremely important that health education is accessible anywhere, anytime, and to every European citizen. Education of reproductive health, including the basic notions of anatomy and physiology, is a part of it. In times where sexual violence is widespread, especially on the internet, and adolescent pregnancy remains a major social issue all over Europe, we must equip teenagers with the information and tools to help them make sense of what they have seen online or have heard from their peers. It means providing them with a comprehensive education of reproductive health,” added Tudor Ciuhodaru, the S&D negotiator of the resolution in the LIBE committee.