Croatia Suspends Sex Education In Schools After Staunch Church Opposition

05/24/2013 02:42 pm ET
AP

In February, Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic’s government launched sex education programs in schools as part of an effort to “raise awareness of sexual health,” reports the Agence France-Presse. The Catholic Church opposed the program, and two church-supported associations filed objections to the curriculum, claiming that the program’s lack of parental authorization defied the constitution.

The program, which was taught to students aged 9 - 18, will be put on hold until the court revisits the constitutionality of its specific lessons. The court said the government should have consulted parents before initiating the curriculum and cited "procedural errors" in the program's preparation, reports Paris-based news agency Presseurop.

A survey revealed that 56 percent believe sex education is necessary, according to the AFP. The country currently registers approximately 2,000 teenage pregnancies per year, Croatian government official Vinko Filipovic told the outlet.

Milanovic said in a statement released by the government that he will continue to fight for the program:

What I can promise for the umpteenth time is that my colleagues and I will do everything to have health and sexual education in Croatia at the level that most children have in Germany. I believe that is something Croatian children deserve. They who believe that this isn't necessary don't think like I do and I will not give up in that civilisational battle.

While the prime minister accepted the court’s ruling as legitimate, he stated concerns that the Catholic Church and conservative groups had undue influence on Croatian public opinion.

"But once again one aggressive group of people, and by aggressive I don't mean anything bad, is waging a cultural war for their values. At the moment the Constitution is more in their favour, it is easier now to impose a political agenda and programme in spite and above the parliament. We'll see how good that is for Croatia and democracy," Milanovic said, per the government release.

Conservative groups backed by the Church are also working to limit the constitutional definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. A petition for a referendum on the subject has attracted nearly 400,000 signatures, according to Croatian outlet Jutarnji List, Presseurop notes.

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