Unprecedented national and international solidarity to protect the academic freedom and the freedom of thought in Romania

The National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (SNSPA), Bucharest, together with the West University of Timișoara, with the backing of other major universities, academics and researchers from Romania and around the world – gathering an impressive number of 885 supporters – submitted to the Romanian Constitutional Court a legal point of view, a “friend of the court”, Amicus Curiae, in relation to the modified Law of education which forbids institutions to discuss gender issues. Amicus Curiae was elaborated in support of the Notice of unconstitutionality on Law no. 87/2020 for the amendment of art.7 of the National Education Law no.1 / 2011, which the President of Romania formulated on July 10, 2020, and was submitted on Thursday, September 24, 2020

Babeș-Bolyai University (UBB), Cluj-Napoca and the University of Bucharest implicitly supported SNSPA and West University of Timișoara, through their prompt reaction after the modified law was voted, in June this year.

Through this Amicus Curiae, the signatory organizations and persons bring legal arguments, which demonstrate the unconstitutional character of the normative provisions proposed by the Law amending art. 7 of the National Education Law no. 1/2011, but also the meaning, importance and necessity of gender studies in a democratic state.

An impressive international support came from universities from Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australia, New Zealand. Among the universities we mention just a few: Paris Sorbonne, Université libre de Bruxelles, Freie Universität Berlin (EU), Princeton, Harvard, Yale (USA), Cambridge, King’s College (UK), University of South Australia, University of Brasilia, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. The whole list of signatures is attached.

To the extent that the assault on democratic freedoms by attacking gender studies and the protection of minorities has an international dimension – part of the illiberal tendencies of recent years – we emphasize the presence in the list of world-class academics, specialists in various topics from field of study of gender: Judith Butler (Professor, University of California at Berkeley), Delphine Dulong, (Professor, University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, France), David Paternotte, (Professor, Université libre de Bruxelles), Joan W. Scott, (Professor Emerita, Princeton, New Jersey), Mieke Verloo (Professor, Radboud University, Netherlands).

A group of Romanian academics with research interests in the field of gender studies have actually worked on the development of gender studies in Romania and on the project of the present Amicus Curiae: Mihaela Miroiu (university professor, founder of the Master’s in Politics, Gender and Minorities, SNSPA), Ionela Băluță (university professor, founder of the Master’s Degree in Equal Opportunities Policies in Romanian and European Context, University of Bucharest), Oana Băluță (associate professor, University of Bucharest), Măriuca Oana Constantin (university lecturer, SNSPA), Iustina Ionescu (lawyer, doctoral student SNSPA), Liliana Popescu (university professor, SNSPA).

 

On June 16, 2020, the Romanian Senate adopted the controversial bill amending the National Education Law and prohibiting “in units, educational institutions and all spaces intended for vocational education and training, including in units providing extracurricular education”, activities “for the spread of the theory or opinion of gender identity, understood as the theory or opinion that gender is a different concept from biological sex and that the two are not always the same.”

The signatory organizations and persons bring to the attention of the Constitutional Court the following:

  1. From a legal point of view, the Law amending art. 7 of the National Education Law no. 1/2011:
  • restricts the right to freedom of expression, including scientific opinions, guaranteed by the Romanian Constitution (30, paragraphs (1) and (2)) as well as by the European Convention on Human Rights (art. 10);
  • undermines the freedom of research and represents a serious interference of politics in university autonomy, violating the Romanian Constitution (art. 32);
  • contravenes European Union law (in particular Article 13 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union guaranteeing the freedom of the arts and scientific research) and international treaties – for example the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Council Convention Europe on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) adopted by the Council of Europe;
  • proposes a vision on the definitions of the concepts of sex and gender, which contradicts the domestic legislation in force and important international treaties to which Romania is part of, such as the Istanbul Convention.

 

  1. From an academic and democratic point of view, the Law amending art. 7 of the National Education Law no. 1/2011:
  • intervenes brutally in the scientific approaches of the academic space, because it prohibits not only activities that address theories and opinions related to the gender dimension of human identity, but a whole legitimate discipline of study and research, namely gender studies, in which Romanian researchers have contributed and continue to contribute significantly – a discipline present in world academic research for over 70 years;
  • ignores the results of research in the field of gender studies, which make valuable contributions in various fields: political studies, history, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, psychology and law, literary studies, journalism, educational sciences, theatre, medicine and technology. Proof of the importance of gender studies in academia is attested, inter alia, by the existence of research centers and programs in the field of gender studies in all major universities of the world, as well as their development (after 1989, with the democratization of the university space) and in Romanian universities;
  • contradicts the fundamental mission of academia, which is to produce knowledge and train future generations in a democratic spirit – gender studies play a key role in training researchers and experts in a fundamental field for any democratic regime: equal opportunities and gender equality;
  • violates the norms and evaluation criteria of ARACIS, which introduced disciplines related to gender studies in several fields in the field of social sciences and accredited master’s programs specializing in gender studies.

 

The signatory persons and institutions consider that there are factual and legal grounds for ascertaining the unconstitutional and undemocratic character of the Law for the amendment of art.7 of the National Education Law no.1 / 2011. The list of signatures, here (starting with page 17).

 

Contacts:

Liliana Popescu, vice-rector, SNSPA professor, liliana.popescu@politice.ro

Ionela Băluță, professor, University of Bucharest, ionela.baluta@fspub.unibuc.ro

Oana Băluță, associate professor, University of Bucharest, oana.baluta@fjsc.ro

Măriuca Oana Constantin, lecturer, SNSPA, mariuca.constantin@politice.ro

Iustina Ionescu, lawyer, doctoral student, SNSPA aviustinaionescu@gmail.com, GSM: +40722253789

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