Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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Italian MPs introduce bill to protect parents’ constitutional rights against ‘gender ideology’

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

ROME, April 9, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Italian Deputies Eugenia Roccella and Alessandro Pagano have introduced a bill in Parliament that would establish the rights of parents to make decisions about their children’s education, particularly on moral issues.

The move comes in response to increasing concerns by some deputies, parent groups, and civil rights organizations that the government is being co-opted by organized activists to push the so-called “gender ideology” in schools and other Italian institutions.

The purpose of the bill, Roccella said at a press conference, is to “reaffirm and ensure the fundamental right to educational choice of parents, as set out, inter alia, in the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.” 

Which means in practice, she said, that in all school activities that “relate directly or indirectly to the issues related to relationships, affectivity and sexuality education, and other ethically sensitive issues in general, the parents are informed, who must give their consent in writing to each student.” 

The schools must also provide alternative activities for those who choose not to take advantage of extra-curricular activities, “without giving rise to any form of discrimination.”

Roccella is a former feminist activist and past state secretary for health who has long been a champion of life and family causes in Italy’s Parliament, most recently against the proposed “anti-homophobia” law. She is a deputy with the newly-formed Nuovo Centro Destra party (NCD, “New Centre-Right”).

Recently, she and a group of deputies and others have grown increasingly concerned over the sudden incursions of the homosexualist movement’s ideologies into government institutions, particularly through the Ufficio Nazionale Anti Discriminazioni, (UNAR, National Anti-Discrimination Bureau) a body set up by the government to ensure “equality of treatment and the removal of discrimination based on race and ethnic origin.”  

Roccella took a leading role in a group of deputies that stopped the UNAR from distributing pro-homosexual school pamphlets, though some city-based initiatives have moved forward in Milan, Turin, Venice and Florence at the behest of local homosexualist organizations. 

She explained that the bill is in response to actions taken by the UNAR. Although UNAR’s written prerogatives say that it must act “in full independence of judgment and condition of impartiality,” it has effectively become the strong arm of the gender ideology movement in government, using the law to enforce conformity to a new and alien set of ethics. 

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Roccella explained in an interview with the website Papaboys 3.0, that the UNAR has been co-opted by gender ideologues to press their aims onto Italian society with the force of law. The UNAR accomplishes this with a “working group made ​​up of 29 homosexual associations,” with no other groups represented to “ensure diversity of opinion and judgment criteria.” 

“In this way,” Roccella said, “the UNAR began working independently, to launch the dissemination of brochures such as the ‘Educating for diversity in school,’ which was brought to children without any permission, either from the Ministry of Education, or from the Ministry of Social Policy and completely excluding parents of students.” 

Roccella pointed to two UNAR documents, issued in January this year, that have formed the basis of the push into schools, and an attempt to control the message to the public by censoring journalists. These documents were created through collaboration with gender and homosexual activists at the Council of Europe.

The two documents are part of the “National Strategy for the Prevention and the Fight Against Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (2013-2015),” and “Communicating without Prejudice,” which threatened unspecified professional sanctions, and even possible jail time, for those journalists who portrayed homosexuality or “transgenderism” in anything but a positive light. These two documents together, Roccella said, lay out “a real code of political correctness, which masks the reality of self-censorship and forms a platform of ideological conformism.”

The UNAR’s documents on the schools included their stated intention to “instill” in children “the concept that there is no male and female, mother and father, and that the idea that the family is formed by a man and a woman is the result of a homophobic culture.”

These assertions in the two papers, Roccella said, contradict the constitution in its definition of the family – which calls it a “natural society based on marriage” – and undermine motherhood by supporting the concept of the paid “surrogate mother.” Roccella has been a vocal opponent of the push to legalize surrogacy in Parliament, calling it “uterus for rent.” She said that since the UNAR has started issuing its demands, Italy is now seeing the “paradox” of institutions established by the government attempting to ban expression of the country’s own constitution.

She also commented on the case of now-former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich, who was “shown the door by his company” after it was revealed that in 2008 he donated $1,000 to support California’s Proposition 8, a referendum that opposed “gay marriage.” Eich, she said, was a victim of a campaign of “undemocratic blackmail” by organizations that “do not tolerate freedom of thought.”

“Faced with so much illiberal violence,” she said, “I want to reaffirm that I am personally opposed to gay marriage, and that in Eich’s shoes I would also have given my support to the battle for the defense of marriage between a man and a woman.”

The intervention of Roccella and other deputies to defend the rights of parents in the nation’s schools is a timely one, said Stefano Zecchi, an author and professor of philosophy at the University of Milan. In an interview with Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, Zecchi said that the extreme left is using these “gender” ideologues to force the public school system to act as a conduit into the minds of young Italians, breaking down foundational civilizational concepts like the family, based on marriage, and replacing them with a foreign, utopian ideology.  

“Today in politics there is great difficulty in making sense of cultural differences, so the secularism of the left has just delivered their ideological arsenal on the theme of the abolition of genders. To say that genders are no longer male and female, but even 56 different types becomes the battle for political identity,” Zecchi said.

“As the original leftists truly believed that Communism would save the human race and recognized in it an irreproachable morality, so today they argue that gender prejudice is brutalization.”  

For this end, Zecchi said, “the school is particularly targeted by these insane ideologies” that are “the result of the demolition of the father figure that comes from the 70s.” These ideologies, he said, are moving politics into the realm of Darwinian “biologism,” an ideology that is totalitarian at its root.  

Ultimately, he said, the logic will lead to the total abolition of any and all sexual restraint in the public sphere: “One day we will come to defend the pedophile – who is after all, a man who pursues his sexual preference – and even incest.”

Zecchi echoed Roccella, saying that under the current law “freedom of education” is a constitutional principle, but that this right of parents to guide their children’s education is coming under direct attack “by a ‘state education’ that would be imposed by the ideologues of gender.” Teachers should be warned that, while they have a duty to stop genuine bullying, “which creates true personal tragedies,” the current push is an attempt to use bullying as a pretext for inserting the “violent ideology” of the extreme left.

“This is becoming a regime and in fact everyone is afraid to fight back, even if only to say that the father is a man and a woman is the mother has become an act of ‘courage.’” 

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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received more than $400 million in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

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If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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