The senate in Romania has passed a bill that, if signed by the president, will make it illegal to discuss gender identity in every school and university in the country.
Passed on June 16 by the senate, the bill will forbid any discussion or “promotion” of “gender identity theory” – defined as “activities to spread the theory or opinion of gender identity, understood as the theory or opinion that gender is a different concept from biological sex and that the two are not always the same”.
The bill will now go to Romanian president Klaus Iohannis for approval.
It has been condemned by human-rights organisations and LGBT+ groups in Romania, which describe the potential law as “erasing” transgender people and a “major blow” to the trans community.
Vlad Alexandrescu, a senator for Romania’s third-largest political party, USR, says that the law will force children into outdated gender stereotypes, making girls play with dolls and boys with cars.
“At a time when rapists are burning their victims in Romania after raping them, when domestic violence reaches paroxysmal levels, when sexual exploitation and child trafficking for sexual exploitation came to the attention of all international forums, the Senate, Parliamentary decision-making chamber, adopted today…
“… a law initiated by two PMP parliamentarians, introduced on the agenda half an hour before the start of the meeting schools, universities and all spaces for education and training, any reference to gender identity,” he wrote on Facebook.
Major universities in Romania are also protesting the bill, saying it represents an infringement on freedom of speech and the right to an education, and could lead to future moves to ban the teaching of gender or women’s studies in Romania.
“I feel angry, I feel erased, the Romanian state is telling me, a transgender Roma woman that I do not exist!” said Antonella Lerca Duda, a board member of LGBT+ rights organisation MozaiQ and president of SWC, the first and only organisation fighting for sex workers’ rights in the country.
“No, politicians do not have the right to decide about my identity,” Duda added.
The law in Romania was drafted by two senators from Romania’s right-wing Popular Movement Party
The bill puts Romania on a similar path to its neighbours Poland and Hungary.
Hungary’s far-right president Viktor Orbán passed a law in April that legally erases trans people, taking away the right for citizens to change their legal name or gender.
Poland has also taken steps to restrict trans rights and suppress public discussions of gender, with president Andrzej Duda vowing to ban equal marriage, gay adoption and LGBT+ education in schools on June 11.