Romanian president moves to reject ban on gender studies

13 July 2020

On 10 July, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis submitted an appeal to the country’s Constitutional Court regarding an amendment passed by the Parliament that would prohibit gender studies in all education institutions. The Romanian Parliament approved the amendment to the education law on 16 June. The move sparked an outcry in the academic world and among civil society organisations with many declaring it a clear infringement on academic freedom, contradicting fundamental rights guaranteed by the Romanian Constitution and international conventions.

The President’s appeal echoes public opinion stating that the amendment contravenes several fundamental rights, specifically citing university autonomy. It also cites the 2009 EUA Prague Declaration. The Romanian Council of Rectors, an EUA member, has been urging Iohannis to not sign the bill into law. Critics in the university sector have repeatedly stated that such an amendment could result in a blatant act of government interference in Romania’s universities and would disregard essential European values.

EUA has followed similar cases in the past, in particular in 2018 when the Hungarian government banned gender studies from the country’s list of accredited university study programmes. Lessons from the Hungarian case show that such events are highly damaging to a country’s reputation and have worrying implications for both for the county in question and Europe as a whole.

The case now rests with the Constitutional Court, with no reported information on when it might come under review. EUA will continue monitoring the situation in liaison with the Romanian Council of Rectors.

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