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Romania Constitutional Court rules gender studies ban unconstitutional

In a majority decision, the Constitutional Court of Romania has struck down a legislative amendment that effectively banned the subject of gender studies in university education as unconstitutional.

Article 7(1)(e) of the impugned amendment was introduced earlier this year to amend Article 7 of the National Education Law No. 1/2011. The amendment prohibited any discussion in educational institutions of the “gender identity theory,” which it described as any “theory or opinion that [suggests] gender [as] a concept that is different than the biological sex”. Therefore, the provision was aimed at banning any discourse suggesting “gender” (now widely accepted to be a social construct) as different from “biological sex.”

The bill was approved by the Romanian parliament in June. Human rights organizations condemned the bill as discriminatory and violative of the Romanian Constitution as well as various international commitments including freedom of thought and expression and the right to education. It was especially seen as catastrophic for transgender and gender-diverse persons, since it pressed for denial of gender as distinct from a person’s biological sex. The bill, if passed, would have erased gender studies from the curriculum and would have prevented social workers, counselors and NGOs from discussing gender identity issues and extending support to transgender persons.

In response to growing criticism, the bill was subsequently challenged by President Klaus Iohannis at the top court, which gave its ruling on Wednesday.

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