Today, Amnesty International presented a document to the Paraguayan Senate expressing the organization’s concerns about the bill “prohibiting the promotion, encouragement or teaching of gender ideology in the country’s educational institutions,” introduced to the Senate on 6 July 2023.
The bill further states that non-compliance would result in “criminal and/or administrative sanctions,” but does not establish the state body responsible for its enforcement nor specify what sanctions would be imposed in the case of non-compliance.
“This bill is a total affront to human rights. Adopting a gender perspective in education should not only not be prohibited, but it is an obligation of the Paraguayan state due to its international human rights commitments,” said Ana Piquer, Americas director at Amnesty International.
In its comments presented to the Senate, Amnesty International notes that the bill violates international human rights norms and standards to which the Paraguayan state is bound and which explicitly recognize the human right to comprehensive sexuality education with a gender perspective, which is indivisible from the right to education and integral to the enjoyment of the rights to life, health, information and non-discrimination, among others.
This bill is a total affront to human rights. Adopting a gender perspective in education should not only not be prohibited, but it is an obligation of the Paraguayan state due to its international human rights commitmentsAna Piquer, Americas director at Amnesty International
Amnesty International’s document also highlights how the proposal to prohibit a gender perspective in any area of public policy disregards the high rates of gender inequality, violence and discrimination that disproportionately affect women, girls and LGBTIQ+ people.
“It is highly concerning that legislators and authorities, when explaining the bill, make use of empty and ambiguous statements such as ‘gender ideology’ and ‘indoctrination’ to refer to education with a gender perspective,” said Ana Piquer. “These statements not only distort the real meaning and purpose behind comprehensive sexuality education, but also seek to manipulate public opinion, exploiting societal fears and anxieties and encouraging the stigmatization and persecution of people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.”
The document presented by Amnesty International reiterates that a gender perspective is essential to achieving substantive equality for all people in accordance with Paraguay’s international obligations in matters of human rights. It is only through these lenses that gender-based discrimination and inequalities can be recognized as deeply rooted in societies and as having significant impact on people’s experiences and opportunities, as well as on their ability to exercise their human rights.
Amnesty International also notes that the proposed legal text lacks effective mechanisms for diverse and inclusive social participation and suffers from a lack of clarity regarding both its scope and implementation, violating the principal of legality and creating enormous legal uncertainty.
On these grounds, Amnesty International urged the Paraguayan Congress to reject this bill and also reiterated that Congress must promote a comprehensive, diverse, inclusive and tolerant discussion, open to all sectors of society, to discuss the importance of guaranteeing comprehensive sexuality education with a gender perspective.
This is not the first initiative using regulation to restrict the adoption of a gender perspective in Paraguayan educational policy. Through Resolution 29.664 on 5 October 2017, the Ministry of Education and Sciences prohibited “the dissemination and use of both print and digital materials referring to gender theory and/or ideology in educational institutions.” This initiative was strongly criticized by international human rights organizations and civil society organizations, including Amnesty International.
However, Paraguay has ignored all these challenges. Not only does the resolution remain in force, as in 2022, but the Ministry of Education and Sciences has also publicly called for the faculty and administrations at schools to comply with it and urged education professionals and society in general to file official complaints if materials of that nature were found.
The new bill before the Senate for consideration not only proposes to turn this prohibition into law, but also broadens its scope; it would become applicable “without exception in all educational institutions in the country, at all levels, whether public or private, whether in-person, online or hybrid.”