Opposition seeks review of law on gender

By TPN/Lusa, in News · 21-07-2019 11:00:00 · 0 Comments
Opposition seeks review of law on gender

A group of 85 members of Portugal’s opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD) and People’s Party (CDS-PP) have submitted a request to the Constitutional Court for a review of legislation that calls for the adoption in the educational system of measures relating to gender identity.

The submission was prepared by PSD deputies Miguel Morgado, Nilza Sena and Bruno Vitorino and signed by, among others, the parliamentary leader of the PSD, Fernando Negrão, party deputies Maria Luís Albuquerque, Hugo Soares, Adão Silva and Marques Guedes, and by CDS-PP deputies João Almeida, Pedro Mota Soares, Telmo Correia and Filipe Anacoreta Correia, among others.

The total of 85 signatories easily exceeds the number of 23 deputies required under the constitution for the court to carry out such a review.

The application focusses on two points (1 and 3) of article 12 of the law establishing the right to the self-determination of gender identity and gender expression and the protection of each person's sexual characteristics, which was approved on 12 July last year with the PSD and CDS-PP voting against.

"Gender ideology, like any other ideology, can be promoted and discussed in the democratic public space,” Morgado told Lusa. “It stems from living in democracy in a regime of freedoms. But the constitution very rightly prohibits the state from promoting in the teaching system the propagation of ideologies, religions or doctrines.

“That is all that is at stake here in our initiative: the protection of the school in the face of ideologies-in the case of this law, that of gender," he argued, stressing that the application for abstract review of the legislation does not relate to the right enshrined in the law of self-determination of gender identity.

Article 12 of the law relates to education and states, in paragraph 1, that "the State must ensure the adoption of measures in the educational system at all levels … that promote the exercise of the right to self-determination of gender identity and expression of gender and of the right to the protection of the sexual characteristics of people" and goes on to outline procedures including adequate training for teachers and other professionals in the sector.

In paragraph 3, the same article establishes a period of six months from the publication of the law (last August) for the members of the government responsible for the areas of gender equality and education to adopt "the necessary administrative measures" for their implementation.

In their legal basis of the request, the signatories argue that "the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic not only guarantees 'the freedom to learn and teach' (article 43, paragraph 1) but protects Portuguese schools from meddling by the state, and by political power, in the programming of education and culture, 'according to any philosophical, aesthetic, political, ideological or religious guidelines' (article 43, paragraph 2).

"The doctrinal and ideological use of theoretical bases for certain approaches to gender identity issues therefore represents an example of content that is not permissible in Portuguese schools in the light of the protections conferred by Constitution, in breach of article 43," the document argues.

Finally, the submission states that the imposition of the teaching of this content in all schools is "a flagrant violation of the autonomy conferred … by the Constitution".

The deputies argue that what they describe as "gender ideology" has nothing to do with the political, constitutional, moral and legal value of gender equality – of equality between men and women in society, in the labour market, in politics, in opportunities and in access in general" – a value that they deem "non-negotiable”.


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