Yesterday the EU Parliament categorically opposed Lithuania’s new censorship law that bans “the propaganda of homosexuality or bisexuality” in schools and any place easily accessed by children such as on the television, radio and the internet. But do we have an obligation to discuss homosexuality with our children to prevent anti-gay bullying and violence?
The Lithuanian Gay Censorship Law
With a firm majority of 349 – 218, the EU voted to adopt a resolution condemning the law, saying that it violates EU and international policy as well as breaching several anti-discrimination texts.
UK Green MEP Jean Lambert said:
“This law contravenes the EU Treaties, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, and should be urgently repealed on these grounds.”
The EU called for an independent body, the Agency for Fundamental Rights, to issue a report on exactly which sections of anti-discrimination policy Lithuania’s blanket ban on the “dissemination of homosexuality” contravenes.
Expected to become active in March 2010, the censorship law could even be used to prohibit Pride celebrations and to make positive discussion of homosexuality in the media a punishable taboo.
The Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information outlines several subjects that are considered morally dangerous including horoscopes, the occult, excessive violence and bad language.
Lithuania’s newly elected president Dalia Grybauskaite is firmly against the censorship law, but has very little option but to sign it given that her predecessor issued a veto some months ago, and under the Lithuanian constitution the same law can not be vetoed twice after it has been returned to parliament to be readdressed.
Still, President Grybauskaite has stalled plans to add further amendments to the ban, and has set up a group to ensure that the law is “compatible with basic human rights”.
A further comment made by UK MEP Jean Lambert sparked interest when she said:
“It is particularly alarming that the Lithuanian parliament succeeded in passing homophobic legislation under the pretence of child protection, when it is clearly in the best interests of young people to have as much information as possible on these issues.”
Michael Cashman of the European Parliament’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) group echoed that sentiment, saying:
“The ideology behind the text is pure homophobia… It is crucial to allow young people to speak, think and act, in the respect of others who are different. Young people need education not isolation.”
A final hearing on the law is set for later this year.
Censorship in the US on LGBT-Themed Information for Children
This entire case is interesting from a number of perspectives, and one such angle highlights issues closer to home.
In American politics many anti-gay organizations argue that it is not in our childrens’ best interests for schools to discuss homosexuality, and liken it to indoctrination. They stand by this opinion even when discussing anti-gay bullying, as was demonstrated in the recent media debate over the Safe Schools Improvement Act.
The Act, H.R. 2262 as it is formally known, sits in Congress at the moment but has been widely denounced by Religious Conservatives as a means of “pushing a homosexual agenda” in our schools.
Rather, what the Safe Schools Improvement Act aims to do is compel schools to act on homophobia in the classroom and to draw up policies to deal with anti-gay bullying and the issues faced by LGBT students, rather than just ignoring them. Currently, schools lack a federally approved framework to do so.
If you would like to support the Safe Schools Improvement Act, please sign this Care2 petition.
Lastly, with reference to the issues raised above, do you think that homosexuality should be discussed in schools? Have your say below.