President Nicos Anastasiades has signed the legislation on sex education in schools which was passed by parliament, despite the attorney general claiming it is unconstitutional.
The bill soon became engulfed in wider controversy, with independent MP Andreas Themistocleous accused of hate speech after describing it as an abomination – adding “they’ll teach kids that there are 64 genders, about gender fluidity. So that Kostakis was born a boy and then became Mariyoulla”.
The president’s office on Monday stated that the AG’s opinion is respected, but that Cyprus has obligations to international agreements to which it has signed.
Anastasiades cited the UN convention on the rights of children, and the Council of Europe convention to protect children against sexual abuse. Those agreements require the state to educate children on the matter of sexual exploitation, his office said.
The government has said that the law aims to help children understand signs of abuse and know where and when to seek help.
The president further reasoned that the legislation therefore satisfies those obligations without interfering with the education minister’s role of setting the curriculum or altering the timetable.
That issue was raised before it went to plenum, when Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou sent House President Annita Demetriou a letter outlining the move as unconstitutional and it would not be feasible to implement.
For her part, Demetriou said that Prodromou’s attempts to interfere in parliament’s scheduled vote on mandating sex education in schools was “blatantly unethical” and violated the separation of powers.
Prodromou has been on the airwaves for the past few weeks, saying schools already teach sex education and it was rolled out for younger ages last year. He argued the ministry was not opposed to sex education – seeing as it was ensuring it was being taught – but having it legislated by parliament was unconstitutional.
He argued that it would require a change of timetable which is determined by regulations that are approved by Cabinet, thus violating the separation of powers. Additionally, the training and additional staff required would affect the state budget, which is unconstitutional, Prodromou said, citing the attorney-general.
The law passed with 39 votes in favour, eight against from Elam and independent MP Andreas Themistocleous. Diko’s eight deputies abstained.