Trans rights, queer theory: Claims that Westminster’s sex education plan for NI will impose ‘sexual experimentation and abortions for underage girls without parental knowledge’

UN-approved sex education to be imposed on NI by Westminster will teach children ‘sexual experimentation, queer theory, trans rights and policies to facilitate abortions for underage girls’, it is claimed.

By Philip Bradfield
Friday, 29th July 2022, 4:16 pm
Updated Friday, 29th July 2022, 4:36 pm

A pro-life group has also claimed that the UN-recommendations to be imposed on NI schools by the Secretary of State will include measures to “change existing perceptions of motherhood”.

“This is not education - it is indoctrination,” said Liam Gibson, Policy & Legal Officer with the Society for Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC).

He was speaking after Secretary of State Shailesh Vara said he will consider introducing compulsory relationship and sex education (RSE) in schools - if the Department of Education refuses to do so.

Northern Ireland Secretary Shailesh Vara says he will impose UN-approved compulsory sex education onto NI schools if the Department of Education refuses to do so.

The BBC has reported that Mr Vara has written to the department to inform it of his intention to act. Mr Vara said he had a legal duty to act on the recommendations of a United Nations (UN) committee report on Relationship and Sex Education (RSE).

The UN committee said RSE in Northern Ireland should be compulsory and comprehensive and should cover topics such as access to abortion and prevention of early pregnancy.

In response, the department said Education Minister Michelle McIlveen had written to the Northern Ireland secretary inviting him to meet her to discuss the issue.

The UN recommendations on abortion and sex education for NI came from recommendations in a 2018 UN report from the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, (CEDAW).

It stated that the UK had been breaching the rights of women in Northern Ireland by limiting their access to abortion services.But the CEDAW report also said that young people were “denied the education necessary to enjoy their sexual and reproductive health and rights”.

In a statement to the BBC, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) said Mr Vara was under a legal duty to implement the recommendations of the CEDAW report.

”In relation to relationship and sexuality education, the secretary of state is under a duty to ensure that adolescents have access to age-appropriate, comprehensive and scientifically accurate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights, including prevention of early pregnancy and access to abortion,” the NIO said.

”The Department of Education is responsible for taking forward this recommendation. It is our strong preference that the Department for Education ensure CEDAW compliant relationship and sexuality education is made a compulsory component of the curriculum.

“If the Department of Education is not prepared to implement the CEDAW recommendation, the secretary of state will consider using his powers to intervene.”

At present in Northern Ireland all schools must provide sex education but individual schools are free to determine their own content and ethos. Retired judge Sir John Gillen - who led a review in to NI rape trials - has recommended that age-appropriate relationship and sex education should be taught to children from primary one. And Children’s commissioner Koulla Yiasouma also recently called for a compulsory RSE curriculum.

But Mr Gibson warned that the content of the CEDAW recommendations Mr Vara wishes to impose on NI might surprise some parents.

“This is not an idle threat from the Secretary of State and parents of school-aged children need to take this very seriously,” he said. “When the Northern Ireland Office talks about imposing the recommendations contained in the 2018 report from the UN CEDAW committee, parents need to understand that this means that their children will be exposed to a radical agenda that will promote sexual experimentation, ‘queer theory’, ‘trans’ rights and policies that will facilitate abortions for underage girls without their parents finding out. The CEDAW recommendations even include measures to change existing perceptions of motherhood. This is not education - it is indoctrination.”

Mr Gibson also claimed it was “totally disingenuous” for the Secretary of State to claim that he’s under a legal obligation to impose compulsory sex education.

Mr Gibson added: “The Government doesn’t have to do anything it doesn’t want to do. Mr Vara is a Minister in a Conservative Government with a massive majority, it would be very easy for the Government to remove this obligation it placed on itself.” Mr Gibson urged parents to “protect their children from this poisonous ideology” and to lobby principals and MLAs on the issue.

The NIO was invited to respond to his comments.

When previous Secretary of State Brandon Lewis was putting the CEDAW recommendations into law for NI, opposing MPs also claimed the UN recommendations had no legally binding authority on NI, which he did not contest.

DUP Education Minister Michelle McIlveen has previously defended the status quo on sex education.

The Department said in a statement: “In Northern Ireland, RSE already provides opportunities for young people to learn about the implications of sexual maturation and the emotional, social and moral implications of early sexual activity.”

“The statutory curriculum is supported by a range of non-statutory resources which are available on the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment’s RSE hub”.

In response to Mr Vara’s announcement, the DUP, UUP and TUV all responded that sex education should be determined locally in NI. In contrast the SDLP welcomed his statement, while Sinn Fein did not comment.

The Presbyterian, Methodist and Church of Ireland denominations - which in school matters act corporately as the Transferors Council - also opposed the move, backing the Department of Education’s current guidance and curriculum.

They maintain legal rights of influence over NI schools by law as the majority of them were originally church schools which were handed into state care, subject to legal conditions.

The News Letter previously asked the NIO if it intended to impose the CEDAW recommendations on Catholic schools, however the NIO did not give a direct answer to the question.