I am writing this as Bill 14, incorporating the underhand imposition of the Istanbul Convention ‘a la carte’ dressed up as ‘the Bill for domestic violence’, moves one step closer to becoming the law of the land.
Before I am lambasted as being anti-feminist or in favour of domestic violence, let me make my position clear. Violence of any kind is always unacceptable. This includes obvious physical and other kinds of violence imposed on the vulnerable sectors of society such as vulnerable children (preborn and from conception), the elderly, the disabled, the infirm, etc. The proposed convention does not include all the vulnerable groups who are at risk.
For example, in our current domestic violence law, the preborn child is defined as a member of the household and is protected. Now, they will no longer be protected in this Bill. Maybe this is an oversight that hopefully will be addressed at committee stage.
Parental rights in the education of their children are also threatened in the Istanbul Convention. Parents are the primary educators of their children, a fundamental right upheld by several international human rights conventions. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes it clear that parents have the primary right to educate their children.
The Istanbul Convention violates this right. If it becomes law, this convention will deny the right of parents to refuse any school lessons and/or curricula that include sexuality or comprehensive sexual health issues not in line with their values.
There have been examples in other countries in Europe where children have been taken away from their parents and put into social care because the parents did not approve of what was being taught in the curriculum. The State took over the rights of the parents who were accused of being homophobic.
The convention comes with a mandatory set-up of a policing system. ‘Thought police’, officials responsible for suppressing ideas different from those imposed by the State, will become the order of the day. They will be empowered to usurp what the parents want to teach their children. Tolerance will disappear as laws tighten and the gender ideologues seek to indoctrinate our children. It will no longer be a free society that embraces differences but one where disagreement with what is being imposed puts you at risk.
Political correctness will limit free speech and journalistic freedom. One will no longer be able to speak out on issues pertaining to the family as we know it. We already have a law, that has removed the terms husband, wife, mother, father, son and daughter, to be neutral. Imposing this further in the name of eradicating gender stereotypes is very serious and no one is speaking about it.
Religious freedom and religious conscientious objection will also be endangered. The major religions will be stigmatised as they teach the concept of marriage as that between one man and one woman. Traditional gender roles and stereotypes based on science and natural law will be “challenged” in school curricula. Will ecclesiastical and value-based schools be excluded from this or will this become compulsory teaching?
The recent media attacks on Edwin Vassallo illustrate how ‘tolerance’ will function in practice. If one bothers to examine what the honourable MP said, one will see that he is being subjected to character assassination. He categorically stated that he is against all forms of violence. He even went on to point out that this law would go much further. MP David Agius also mentioned issues that are worrying in this law.
While one may agree or disagree with what was said or with the voting pattern, the journalistic alarm bells should be alerted. Checking out the facts is a serious journalistic challenge. Who will dare take it on?
In a free society, we should see press interviews that dig in to find the facts and expose what, if any, are the worrying aspects of a proposed legislation.
Eliminating inferiority and promoting equality for women is laudable. Eradicating all that makes a woman,including maternity and other typical feminine traits, as part of stereotyping is anti-woman and will not solve domestic violence.
An education campaign aimed at empowering women and vulnerable people together with the teaching of human dignity to boys and girls would be much more effective than trying to impose this model on a slumbering society that will one day wake up to realise that the Trojan horse of domestic violence has overtaken their lives and basic freedoms, resulting with State intrusion in family life, where one set of ‘stereotypes’ has been exchanged for another set that includes labels such as ‘fundamentalist’ and ‘homophobic’.
Miriam Sciberras is chairman Life Network Foundation Malta.