Paraguay’s Ministry of Education has banned public schools from using or spreading materials on “gender ideology,” a move critics say promotes discrimination toward women and LGBTQ people.
At a press conference in September, Education Minister Enrique Riera said the government recognizes “traditional values” and the “traditional family,” consisting of “father, mother and children.”
“We naturally respect different options, but we’re not going to instill them in our public schools,” Riera said, according to local newspaper ABC Color.
Riera, who officially issued the ban in an Oct. 10 resolution, specifically called out as problematic material that stated: “gender is a social construct.” Under pressure from conservative groups, Riera also said in a speech on Oct. 5 that he would burn any books that spread “gender ideology.”
SOMOSGAY, a Paraguayan LGBTQ advocacy organization, condemned the ban in a statement, adding that the term “gender ideology” was “invented by conservative groups to keep justifying violence and discrimination against women and LGBTI people.”
Critics also said Riera’s resolution is in direct violation of Paraguay’s commitment to international agreements on sexual health and gender discrimination.
“What is really happening here is the suppression of education about equality and discrimination, which is an international obligation of the Paraguayan state,” Erika Guevara Rosas, the Americas director at Amnesty International, said in a statement.
The Montevideo Consensus, which was adopted by Paraguay and other Latin American nations in 2013, requires countries to end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and guarantee access to full information on sexual health services.
“Excluding education on equality from the curriculum is tantamount to state promotion of violence and discrimination, with extremely grave consequence,” Guevara Rosas said.
While homosexual activity is legal in Paraguay, the country has a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and has no legislation intended to fight discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.