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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Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

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Arguments don’t have genitals

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon van Maren

“As soon as he grows his own uterus, he can have an opinion.”

That was a comment left on The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada’s Facebook page by a woman who presumably opposes men speaking out against misogyny, domestic abuse, rape culture, and female genital mutilation as well. Apparently, you see, male genitals disqualify people from speaking out on various human rights issues deemed by women who define themselves by their uteruses while protesting angrily against being defined by their uteruses as “women’s issues.”

Which abortion isn’t, by the way. It’s a human rights issue.

To break it down really simply for our confused “feminist” friends: Human beings have human rights. Human rights begin when the human being begins, or we are simply choosing some random and arbitrary point at which human beings get their human rights. If we do not grant human rights to all human beings, inevitably some sub-set of human beings gets denied protection by another group with conflicting interests. In this case, of course, it is the abortion crowd, who want to be able to kill pre-born children in the womb whenever they want, for any reason they want.

Science tells us when human life begins. Pro-abortion dogma is at worst a cynical manoeuvre to sacrifice the lives of pre-born human beings for self-interest, and at best an outdated view that collapsed feebly under the weight of new discoveries in science and embryology. But the abortion cabal wants to preserve their bloody status quo at all costs, and so they make ludicrous claims about needing a uterus to qualify for a discussion on science and human rights.

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In fact, feminists love it when men speak up on abortion, as long as we’re reading from their script, which is why the carnivorous feminists have such a support system among the Deadbeat Dads for Dead Babies set and the No Strings Attached Club.

Male abortion activists have even begun to complain about “forced fatherhood,” a new cultural injustice in which they are expected to bear some responsibility for fathering children with women they didn’t love enough to want to father children with, but did appreciate enough to use for sex. Casual fluid swaps, they whine, should not result in custody hearings.

This is not to mention a genuine social tragedy that has men forcing or pressuring women to have abortions or abandoning them when they discover that the woman is, indeed, pregnant.

Or the fact that abortion has assisted pimps, rapists, and misogynists in continuing the crimes of sex trafficking, sexual abuse, and sex-selection abortion.

And coming against these disgusting trends are thousands of men in the pro-life movement who believe that shared humanity means shared responsibility, and that when the weak and vulnerable are robbed of their rights, we have to stand up and speak out.

We are not at all convinced by the feminist argument that people should think with their reproductive organs or genitals. We think that the number of people currently doing that has perhaps contributed to the problems we face. And we refuse to be told that protecting the human rights of all human beings is “none of our business” and “outside of our interests.”

Arguments don’t have genitals, feminists. It’s a stupid argument trying to protect a bloody ideology.

Reprinted with permission from CCBR.


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Rachel Daly

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Gvmt strikes UK Catholic school admission policy that prefers Mass attendees

Rachel Daly
By Rachel Daly

St. Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Epsom, England, was ordered to change its admissions policy after it was ruled discriminatory by the nation's Office of Schools Adjudicator, according to Your Local Guardian. St. Joseph's reportedly had been granting preferred acceptance to students whose families attended Mass at the affiliated church.

St. Joseph’s School is for students from age 4 to 11 and describes itself as “enjoy[ing] a high level of academic success.” The school furthermore places high priority on its Catholic identity, affirming on its homepage that “We place prayer and worship at the center of everything we do.”

The school states in its current admissions policy that it was "set up primarily to serve the Catholic community in St Joseph’s Parish" and that when the applicant pool exceeds 60 students, its criteria for prioritizing students includes "the strength of evidence of practice of the faith as demonstrated by the level of the family's Mass attendance on Sundays." 

Opponents of this policy reportedly argue that since donations are asked for at Mass, it could allow donation amounts to influence acceptance, and that forcing non-accepted local students to seek education elsewhere imposes a financial burden upon their families. 

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As Your Local Guardian reports, the adjudicators dismissed claims that donation amounts were affecting school acceptance, given that it is impossible to track donations. Nonetheless, the adjudicators maintained that "discrimination ... potentially arises from requiring attendance at the church rather than residency in the parish."

The Office of Schools Adjudicators, according to its website, is appointed by the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State of Education, to perform such functions as mediating disputes over school acceptances. The Office's ruling on St. Joseph's will require the school to release a revised admissions policy, which is expected in the next few days.

Reprinted with permission from the Cardinal Newman Society.


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Carolyn Moynihan

African women at risk of HIV, hostages to birth control

Carolyn Moynihan
By Carolyn Moynihan

Which should be the priority for a health organisation: preventing an incurable disease, or preventing a natural function that might have adverse physical consequences?

Preventing the disease, you would think. But the World Health Organisation would rather expose African women to HIV-AIDS than withdraw its support from a suspect method of birth control, arguing that childbirth is also risky in Africa. Riskier, apparently, than the said contraceptive. And at least one of WHO’s major partners agrees.

This is one of the stories you will not have read in coverage of the International AIDS Conference held in Melbourne last week, despite the fact that WHO made an announcement about it during the conference and the findings of a highly relevant study were presented there.

The story is this: there is increasing evidence that the method of contraception preferred by family planning organisations working in Africa (and elsewhere) facilitates the transmission of HIV. The method is the progesterone injection in the form of either DMPA (Depo Provera, the most common) or NET-En (Noristerat).

Millions of women in sub-Saharan Africa receive the injection every three months. The method overcomes problems of access. It can be given by nurses or health workers. A wife need not bother her husband for any special consideration; the teenage girl need not remember to take a pill.

But for 30 years evidence has been accumulating that, for all its “effectiveness” in controlling the number of births, the jab may also be very effective in increasing the number of people with HIV.

Three years ago at another AIDS conference in Rome, researchers who had analysed data from a number of previous studies delivered the disturbing news that injectables at least doubled the risk of infection with HIV for women and their male partners.

That study had its weaknesses but one of the experts present in Rome, Charles Morrison of FHI 360 (formerly Family Health International, a family planning organisation that also works in AIDS prevention), considered it a “good study” and subsequently led another meta-analysis that addressed some of the issues with previous research.

Last week at the Melbourne conference he presented the results. His team had re-analysed raw data on the contraceptive use of more than 37,000 women in 18 prospective observational studies. Of these women, 28 percent reported using DMPA, 8 percent NET-En, 19 percent a combined oral contraceptive pill, and 43 percent no form of hormonal contraception. A total of 1830 women had acquired HIV while in a study.

The analysis showed that both injectables raised the risk of infection by 50 percent:

Compared to non-users [of any hormonal contraceptive], women using DMPA had an elevated risk of infection (hazard ratio 1.56, 95% CI 1.31-1.86), as did women using NET-En (1.51, 95% CI 1.21-1.90). There was no increased risk for women using oral contraceptives.

Similarly, comparing women using injections with those using oral contraceptives, there was an elevated risk associated with DMPA (1.43, 95% CI 1.23-1.67) and NET-En (1.30, 95% CI 0.99-1.71).

Morrison also noted:

The results were consistent in several subgroup and sensitivity analyses. However, when only studies which were judged to be methodologically more reliable were included, the increased risk appeared smaller.

Morrison acknowledged that observational studies such as the FHI analysis depended on have their limitations. He is looking for funding to conduct a randomised controlled study – something that, after 30 years of suspicions and evidence, still has not been done.

So what is his advice to the birth control industry? Stop using this stuff in regions with a high prevalence of HIV until we are sure that we are not feeding an epidemic?

No.

One reason is that FHI is at least as interested in contraception as it is in HIV prevention. Though its website reflects a broad range of development activities, its core business is integrating birth control programmes with HIV prevention. The WHO – one of its partners -- describes the US based, 83 percent US government funded non-profit as “a global health and development organization working on family planning, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS.”

Another reason is that FHI 360 has a vital stake in precisely the kind of contraceptives that are under suspicion. Its annual report refers to:

Our trailblazing work in contraceptive research and development continues, as we develop and introduce high-quality and affordable long-acting contraceptives for women in low-income countries. Research is under way to develop a new biodegradable contraceptive implant that would eliminate the need for removal services. We are also working with partners to develop an injectable contraceptive that would last for up to six months. Currently available injectables require reinjections monthly or quarterly, which can be challenging where health services are limited.

That project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID.

So Morrison did not argue in Melbourne for restrictions on the use of injectables, and neither did the WHO, whose representative at the conference outlined the UN body’s new guidelines on contraception and HIV. Mary Lyn Gaffield said a review of studies up to – but not including Morrison’s – did not warrant a change to WHO’s policy that DMPA and NET-En should be available, without restriction, in areas of high HIV prevalence.

The most WHO will advise is that women should be informed of the risk:

“Women at high risk of HIV infection should be informed that progestogen-only injectables may or may not increase their risk of HIV acquisition. Women and couples at high risk of HIV acquisition considering progestogen-only injectables should also be informed about and have access to HIV preventive measures, including male and female condoms.”

Condoms? How do they defend such cynicism? By equating the risk of HIV with the risks of motherhood – complications of pregnancy or childbirth, maternal death and the effect on infants... And yet motherhood remains risky precisely because 90 percent of the world’s effort is going into contraception!

Seven years ago a meeting of technical experts convened by WHO to study the injectables-HIV link showed the reproductive health establishment worried about that issue, to be sure, but also concerned that funding was flowing disproportionately to HIV-AIDS programmes, setting back the cause of birth control. The integration of family planning and HIV prevention spearheaded by FHI 360 looks like they have found an answer to that problem.

Whether African women are any better off is very doubtful. They remain pawns in a game that is, above all, about controlling their fertility. They and their partners are encouraged to take risks with their health, if not their lives, while researchers scout for funds to do the definitive study.

FHI had an income of $674 million last year, most of it from the US government. Couldn’t it give Charles Morrison the money to do his research today?

Reprinted with permission from Mercatornet.com.


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