Sexuality Education

Croatian LGBT Group Fined For Calling Journalist & Judith Reisman Ally A Homophobe

Many Religious Right leaders have thrown their support behind anti-gay laws around the world that not only criminalize gay sex but also limit free speech by making even the advocacy of LGBT equality illegal. Another tactic is to limit the free speech of equality advocates by restricting public criticism of their opponents.

In Croatia, a county court has upheld a ruling of the Zagreb Municipal Court that Zagreb Pride, an LGBT rights group, had violated the personal honor and dignity of a journalist by placing her on its annual list of candidates for “homophobe of the year” in 2013. The Court ruled that Zagreb Pride must pay more than 41,000 krona (a bit over $6,000) in fines and court fees. Zagreb Pride officials contend this case is an outgrowth of an organized campaign by conservative Catholic groups and their allies that led to a 2013 referendum banning marriage by same-sex couples.

The journalist, Karolina Vidović-Krišto, had been placed on the list after producing a television segment in December 2012 which used the research of American anti-gay activist Judith Reisman, who is affiliated with Liberty University, to criticize sex-education curricula. When Vidović-Krišto was suspended by state television after the show, Reisman rallied to her defense, and the journalist was reportedly among those who helped organize Reisman’s 2013 trip to Croatia. Reisman also visited in 2014.

As reported by the Croatia-based Center for Education, Counseling and Research (CESI), Reisman was brought to Croatia for a series of public appearances by Stjepo Bartulica, a member of the Catholic order Opus Dei and a Commissioner for Religious Communities in the Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia. 

Reisman’s record of anti-gay commentary is long and well-documented. For example, Reisman has:

  • said that sex ed turns children into prostitutes and “little sexual deviants”;
  • said that sex education classes are designed to brainwash children into thinking they might be gay, transgender or “all kinds of other things” and “these kids become fodder for adult predators, that’s exactly what they become”;
  • appeared in an anti-gay “documentary” called “Light Wins,” in which she argues that parents should sue teachers and school administrators who allow students to read gay novels, which she says violates a federal law that makes it illegal to “groom children for sex”;
  • said Gay-Straight Alliance clubs and anti-bullying campaigns are modeled on Hitler Youth efforts to “sever schoolchildren from their parents’ religious and sexual training”;
  • called GLSEN “a modern version of the Hitler Youth” and said that “the whole point” of GLSEN’s anti-bullying efforts was to promote pedophilia;
  • claimed that “the aim of homosexual males and now increasingly females is not to have sex with other old guys and get married but to obtain sex with as many boys as possible”;
  • joined her Liberty colleague Mat Staver in Jamaica in December for a conference organized by those working to preserve laws criminalizing consensual gay sex;
  • wrote that condoms are not meant for anal sex and called for a “class action lawsuit by AIDS victims and their loved ones” against the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Planned Parenthood and teachers and school systems that promoted condom use;
  • and  warned that the Boy Scouts’ vote to end the ban on participation by gay youth would lead to increased pedophilia, and agreed with right-wing radio host Rick Wiles that the Boy Scouts change was about “getting sexual predators into the Boy Scouts.” 

Reisman also believes that pornography should be outlawed.

Not surprisingly, Reisman’s visit to Croatia was controversial and was criticized by some scientists as well as activists. Reisman faced a number of outspoken critics, whom she denounced as “thugs.” She spoke to parliamentarians and to college students, by whom she was not well received ; when she responded to critical questions by charging that students had been indoctrinated by communists, the school’s dean asked whether she realized how young these students were. He also challenged her credentials to speak about brain chemistry in regard to her promotion of an “erototoxin” theory that pornography leads to “mating confusion.”

Zagreb Pride officials, who say that challenging anti-gay rhetoric and actions are central to their reason for being, are calling the recent ruling an attack on free expression. The Croatian Journalists Association hosted a Zagreb Pride press conference last week.

"The Constitution guarantees us the freedom of speech, and Zagreb Pride's mission is to publicly reveal homophobia, so our basic duty is to react every time we see someone acting against homosexuals," Zagreb Pride representative Marko Jurcic told a news conference in the offices of the Croatian Journalists Association, calling on citizens to support the association and freedom of expression.

Another report from the press conference quotes Jurcic calling for solidarity from citizens in support of free speech and human rights. Also speaking were Sandra Benčić from the Center for Peace Studies and Natasa Bijelic from CESI, who put the case in the larger context of the growing neo-conservative threats to sexual and reproductive rights in Europe.

Zagreb Pride leaders have vowed to challenge the decision to the Constitutional Court as a matter of freedom of expression, and to develop a strategy for taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

GOP Takeover of the House Called “The Best Development for the Family in 2010”

The National Organization for Marriage embraced the World Congress of Families’ list of the “10 Best and Worst Developments for the Family in 2010,” which claims that the Republican victory in the midterm election was the "best development for the family" in 2010. The World Congress of Families is a militantly anti-gay organization that has spoken out against the purportedly-gay Teletubby Tinky-Winky and partners with other Religious Right groups such as Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, Focus on the Family, the Alliance Defense Fund, and Peter LaBarbera’s Americans For Truth About Homosexuality. According to the list, the election of a Republican majority in the House of Representatives was the best development for families in 2010, along with moves towards anti-choice laws around the world. The WCF’s worst developments include: “Mexico City institutes same-sex marriage;” “repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell;” and “EU tries for stealth recognition of same-sex marriage,” which the group lumps together with issues such as prostitution and out-of-wedlock birth. Read the full list:

The 10 Best Developments are:

1. The U.S. elects a pro-family House of Representatives

2. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev begins discussion of his nation's demographic crisis

3. California voters reject marijuana legalization

4. Canadians refuse to legalize euthanasia

5. Spain holds huge pro-life rallies challenging expansion of abortion

6. U.K. plans to block children's access to Internet porn

7. Developing nation reject E.U. "sexual orientation" mandate

8. Regarding abortion, Europe preserves right of conscience for medical professionals

9. Hungary's new government considers pro-life/pro-marriage constitution and

10. U.N. members reject special rapporteur's recommendations on sexuality education.

Here are The 10 Worst Developments for the Family:

1. Ontario court tries to legalize prostitution in Canada

2. Mexico City institutes same-sex marriage

3. New Kenyan Constitution undermines right to life

4. Ted Turner calls for worldwide one-child policy

5. Hollywood is sexualizing teen girls

6. In U.S., high levels of out-of-wedlock birth among less educated

7. Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

8. Planned Parenthood says abortion and contraception are economic stimulus

9. Growing anti-Christian bigotry in Europe and

10. EU tries for stealth recognition of same-sex marriage.

GOP Takeover of the House Called “The Best Development for the Family in 2010”

The National Organization for Marriage embraced the World Congress of Families’ list of the “10 Best and Worst Developments for the Family in 2010,” which claims that the Republican victory in the midterm election was the "best development for the family" in 2010. The World Congress of Families is a militantly anti-gay organization that has spoken out against the purportedly-gay Teletubby Tinky-Winky and partners with other Religious Right groups such as Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, Focus on the Family, the Alliance Defense Fund, and Peter LaBarbera’s Americans For Truth About Homosexuality. According to the list, the election of a Republican majority in the House of Representatives was the best development for families in 2010, along with moves towards anti-choice laws around the world. The WCF’s worst developments include: “Mexico City institutes same-sex marriage;” “repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell;” and “EU tries for stealth recognition of same-sex marriage,” which the group lumps together with issues such as prostitution and out-of-wedlock birth. Read the full list:

The 10 Best Developments are:

1. The U.S. elects a pro-family House of Representatives

2. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev begins discussion of his nation's demographic crisis

3. California voters reject marijuana legalization

4. Canadians refuse to legalize euthanasia

5. Spain holds huge pro-life rallies challenging expansion of abortion

6. U.K. plans to block children's access to Internet porn

7. Developing nation reject E.U. "sexual orientation" mandate

8. Regarding abortion, Europe preserves right of conscience for medical professionals

9. Hungary's new government considers pro-life/pro-marriage constitution and

10. U.N. members reject special rapporteur's recommendations on sexuality education.

Here are The 10 Worst Developments for the Family:

1. Ontario court tries to legalize prostitution in Canada

2. Mexico City institutes same-sex marriage

3. New Kenyan Constitution undermines right to life

4. Ted Turner calls for worldwide one-child policy

5. Hollywood is sexualizing teen girls

6. In U.S., high levels of out-of-wedlock birth among less educated

7. Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

8. Planned Parenthood says abortion and contraception are economic stimulus

9. Growing anti-Christian bigotry in Europe and

10. EU tries for stealth recognition of same-sex marriage.

Abstinence-Only Campaign Ramps Up

As Congress debates whether to continue federal funding of abstinence-only sexuality education, the National Abstinence Education Association is launching an effort to organize a million supporters, with the help of the “Swift Boat Vets” PR firm.

Parents for Truth” apparently aims to recruit support by the same method NAEA used in a poll last year: touting salacious details supposedly drawn from comprehensive sex ed curriculum and falsely implying that abstinence programs provide comparable information about contraceptives. From Focus on the Family’s Citizenlink:

NAEA Executive Director Valerie Huber said most parents would be shocked to learn what is being taught in "comprehensive" sex-education classes.

“ 'Comprehensive' sex education is often very graphic and explicit,” she said. “It is not age-appropriate, and it actually encourages sexual activities that put teens at risk for not only disease, but a host of other consequences.

“With abstinence education, the purpose is to provide all of the risks associated with teen sexual activity and encourage them to wait until marriage. And while contraception can be discussed, it’s always within the context of why abstinence is the best choice.”

A recent congressional report gives us an idea of what that “context” means: condoms being discussed only to discourage their use as risky and unreliable.

While recent studies have cast doubt on the effectiveness of abstinence-only programs to such an extent that even President Bush has seemed to back away from the fight, “Parents for Truth” is looking beyond the fight over federal funding, encouraging parents to push abstinence-only on a local level. Subscribers “will be provided information on what is going on in their state, in their community," said Huber. "[A]nd they will also receive tools so that they can fight and win battles in their own schools on behalf of their children."

Study: 82 Percent of Americans Support Comprehensive Sex Ed

Reuters reports on a University of Pennsylvania study that shows the vast majority of Americans support comprehensive sexuality education, which includes education about contraceptives as well as abstinence.

Of the nearly 1,110 U.S. adults they surveyed, 82 percent supported programs that discuss abstinence as well as other methods for preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Half were in outright opposition to abstinence-only education.

Even among self-described conservatives, 70 percent supported comprehensive sex ed., while 40 percent opposed the abstinence-only strategy.

The findings "highlight a gap between policy, and science and public opinion," said Dr. Amy Bleakley of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and lead author of the new study.

As Reuters notes, this is in stark contrast with the policy of the Bush administration, which spends “around $170 million each year” on abstinence-only programs. “This funding precludes mention of birth control and condoms, unless it's to emphasize their failure rates,” the article notes. These programs, championed by the far Right, have been found to convey medically inaccurate or misleading information, and some are used to promote religion. (“The condom's biggest flaw is that those using it to prevent the conception of another human being are offending God,” read the web site of the Louisiana Governor’s Program on Abstinence.) The administration has also pushed abstinence-only funding in its global AIDS effort, and has recently expanded its domestic programs to reach out to adults.

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