The controversial Estrela report, which was referred back to the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee of the European Parliament (FEMM) has once again been adopted by that committee with only minor cosmetic changes and has been placed back on the plenary agenda for December 10.
This controversial report on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, promotes a right to abortion and also includes compulsory sex education for toddlers.
The Estrela Report was referred back to the FEMM committee following an intense debate about its controversial content, which includes not only the promotion of abortion and a call for restrictions on conscientious objection but also urges compulsory sexual education for children aged 0-4 onwards. (For example, children should be informed about “enjoyment and pleasure when touching one’s own body”, “early childhood masturbation”, etc.)
Debate in the FEMM Committee meeting was heated and opponents of the report complained about a possible breach of the Parliament‘s legal procedure because an outright ban that was placed on tabling new amendments or discussing the existing an alternative resolution which had been prepared.
Although Mrs. Angelika Niebler MEP (EPP) requested to postpone the vote on the Report until the European Parliament‘s Legal Service or Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) could be asked for an official opinion on the legality of the amendment ban, the Report‘s proponents argued that there was no need to further delay the vote. This push for a vote received surprising support from shadow rapporteur Michèle Striffler, a member of the conservative European People's Party (EPP) Group in the European Parliament, who agreed with the text of the Report, along with other coordinators.
The proposal to wait for informed legal opinion on the amendment ban was rejected, and the Estrela Report was adopted with 19 MEPs voting in favor of it and 15 against.
Most of the proposed amendments were rejected, but some minor changes were adopted, the changes being only in detail but not in substance, as follows:
- The paragraph calling on EU Member States “to ensure compulsory, age-appropriate and gender-sensitive sexuality and relationship education for all children and adolescents (both in and out of school)” (§15), was amended to exclude the phrase“both in and out of school”. The word “compulsory” however still remains.
- The paragraph that reads “sexuality education must be provided in a safe, taboo-free, interactive atmosphere between students and educators” (§44), was changed to exclude the words “taboo-free”, “interactive” and “between students and educators”.
- The paragraph which reads “emphasises, therefore, that sexuality education must be part of a broader supportive approach to young people’s emotional development so as to enable them to form mutually respectful relationships with members of the opposite sex” (§54) was amended by the exclusion of the phrase, “with members of the opposite sex”.
These amendments do not improve the report in any way, they are simply cosmetic changes. The vast majority of the radical language and proposals of the Estrela Report remain in place.
The Report has now been put on the agenda for a plenary vote in Parliament on December 10th at 11:30 a.m.
Although it’s a non-binding report, adoption of the Estrela Report would express the official opinion of the European Parliament on the matter of abortion, sexual education and conscientious objection. In each of these areas, the Report adopts a radical position that is at odds with the views of the vast majority of European citizens.
We will return to this issue at the earliest opportunity, as it is imperative that a Community wide lobbying effort should be set in motion to reject this report in plenary on December 10th.