Romanian academics, students, and human rights groups have condemned a new law banning gender identity studies in schools and universities and accused lawmakers of wanting to send the country’s education back to the Middle Ages.
The law approved on Tuesday by Romanian lawmakers would ban all educational institutions from propagating theories and opinions on gender identity according to which gender is a separate concept from biological sex.
Several higher education institutions have harshly condemned the legislation, including the University of Bucharest, which said in a statement that it contradicts fundamental rights guaranteed by the Romania Constitution and international conventions of which Romania is a party to.
The text of the law has no scientific basis and is a blatant example of interference in education and free expression, it added.
The Babes-Bolyai University described itself as astounded that an academic theory could be banned by law and urged lawmakers from creating an unwanted precedent for academic and scientific activity.
Vlad Alexandrescu, a centre-right senator, and university professor wrote in a Facebook post that the law Romania is aligning itself with positions promoted by Hungary and Poland and becoming a regime introducing thought policing.
A number of professors have already indicated that they would not adhere to the legislation, including Gelu Duminica, who teaches Sociology at the University of Bucharest.
He said in a Facebook post that he doesn’t intend to stop incorporating gender elements into his teachings for the simple reason that if I did, I wouldn’t be doing my duty anymore.
The legislation now needs to be approved by President Klaus Iohannis.
The National Alliance of Student Organisations in Romania and the National Council of Students have launched a petition to urge Iohannis to reject the law, arguing it would send the education in Romania back to the Middle Ages.
Romania’s latest law would follow in Hungary’s footsteps. The fellow eastern European country banned gender studies in 2018.
Last month, Hungary also ended legal recognition for transgender and intersex people, which human rights groups have decried as a major backward step and yet another violation of Hungary’s international rights obligations.