I read my 'paper this morning with an increasing sense of foreboding. The Russian Constitutional Court, it tells me, has upheld a ruling that regional laws prohibiting "propaganda of homosexuality" are perfectly fine under the Constitution of Russia. Looking back in the archives to July 2009 and again there is something familiar about Lithuania's 'successful' bill to "prevent the propaganda of homosexuality [or] bisexuality as a detrimental factor on young people." We appear to have transported right back to 1988 and the rancid, hateful and bizarre Section 28 of the Local Government Act. Bizarre because despite it having a massive effect on education for more than 20 years, the bill itself was amended so many times before it was passed that it didn't actually have any powers, and was never actually used. This was the worse kind of censorship; self-censorship by fear.
And the intentions remain hurtful and damaging.
To suggest that removing information gives any form of protection is laughable. It is as credible as the Catholic church's refusal to condone the use of prophylactics to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS; preferring instead to suggest abstention for everyone not married. I tried abstention myself once. Worse three hours of my life, but that's another story. We should probably burn all books and disconnect the internet while we are about it. Knowledge is evidently a bad thing.
I suspect the argument on whether information can and should be provided is one that most civilized countries have considered and concluded - yes. In the UK, once children are ready to learn about it, all sexualities and none are discussed in a sensible manner. A teacher friend of mine assures me it is a 'world away' from my experiences at school where sex-ed was an awkward couple of hours with the geography teacher putting condoms onto bananas. Even now I'm slightly disturbed by the sight of an un-sheathed piece of fruit. Heaven knows what the girls were learning in the other room! So to describe modern teaching of sex and sexuality, as damaging or propaganda couldn't be further from the truth.
What puzzles me though is why in 1988, and now in Russia and Lithuania, teaching about homosexuality is propagandizing but lessons in heterosexuality aren't? I know this isn't a competition, but almost all paedophiles, rapists and other kind of scum define themselves as heterosexual. I wouldn't ever suggest we stop teaching children about heterosexuality, after all I'm here to argue for more information not less, but it does make you think whose 'propaganda' is the dangerous one!
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