Estrela Revisited: Noichl Report Calls for Aggressive Sex Ed Programmes, Abortion, and Medically-Assisted Reproduction

June 5, 2015


On the occasion of a plenary session on June 9, the EU Parliament is asked to vote on the so-called ‘Noichl report’ (2014/2152(INI)) on the ‘EU Strategy for equality between women and men post 2015’. This report – named after its rapporteur, Maria Noichl (Germany, S&D) – calls for a European Parliament Resolution that would push for extreme positions outside EU competence, hidden behind an agenda for “gender equality“.

FEMM Committee calls for radical measures

The Noichl report issues from the Committee on Women´s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM), which has called for various radical measures, including gender mainstreaming, a roadmap for LGBT people, medically-assisted reproduction and abortion, sexual education programmes in schools, quota for women in directorates, the adoption of the Equal Treatment Directive, and the ratification of the Istanbul Convention by those Member States who have not yet done so. It’s an “all-in-one-package” that pushes a controversial and ideological agenda.

Alternative resolution of EPP

However, this agenda is neither based on agreed language within the EU, nor does the EU have any competence on most of its points. To counteract this motion, the EPP Group has tabled an alternative resolution to vote on. Since the Noichl report directly violates the EU principle of subsidiarity, both political groups see the need to offer an alternative resolution that respects the authority of Member States on issues related to the family, health and education.

Gender neutrality for EU

In its activism for a ‘gender-equal’ Europe, the FEMM Committee has called for gender mainstreaming to be implemented at all levels of the EU in order to achieve gender neutrality “in all areas and through individual targeted and specific actions.” But the concept of ‘gender’ underlying this strategy goes far beyond equality between women and men, as shown in our analysis.

“New separate strategy for Women´s Rights and Gender Equality”

The Committee stresses the need for a “new separate strategy for Women´s Rights and Gender Equality” which shall build “on the work of the European Institute for Gender Equality and the European Agency for Fundamental Rights.” It seeks to make it possible to incorporate“gender issues in all appropriate national and [European] Union policy areas” in the form of a practical action plan with “legislative inputs in order to strengthen the legal framework for gender equality.”

EU´s role on matters of gender equality vs. principle of subsidiarity

The report further asks the EU to define its role on matters of gender equality. Specifically, it states that

in recent years anti-gender equality movements have gained public ground in a number of Member States, attempting to reinforce traditional gender roles and challenging existing achievements in the area of gender equality.

Who is being defamed here as “anti-gender equality movements”? It is more often the case that such movements are really giving voice to millions of families across Europe who share a vision of the family that is deeply rooted in human nature – and which represents a natural and lasting form of cohabitation. But such a concept of family necessarily opposes the report’s claim that “the composition and definition of families change over time.” Moreover, the EU principle of subsidiarity guarantees that EU Member States have exclusive competence over family issues. But as has been the case with so many other FEMM reports, this has been boldly and completely disregarded in the Noichl report.

More comprehension for single-parent families and LGBT parenting?

In this vein, the FEMM Committee also recommends that family and work legislation (shall) be made more comprehensive with regard to single-parent families and LGBT parenting.

Despite the massive civil mobilization against – and the subsequent defeat of – the Estrela report in 2013, the Noichl report calls on the Commission

to assist Member States in ensuring highly-quality, geographically appropriate and readily accessible services in the areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights and safe and legal abortion and contraception.

Noichl report offends the principle of subsidiarity

Thus, in complete disregard of the growing popular opposition against radical sexualization programmes imposed by governments and international organizations, the Committee seeks “to create best practice models of sex and relationship education for young people across Europe; implementing sex education programs in schools and ensure counseling and access to contraception for young people; emphasise (…) gender equitable teaching methods for teachers.”

Education is a highly sensitive area of action. Therefore, it remains an internal affairs issue exclusively reserved to EU Member States. But once again, the FEMM committee, in its usual high-handed manner, overstates its competence and seeks to impose its own narrow view on the whole EU.

Further recommendations made in the Noichl report include finding ways “to withdraw gender identity disorders from the list of mental and behavioral disorders“ and demanding that the compliance with gender equality should be considered a criterion for all EU-funded culture, education, and research programs.

Whereas the first recommendation tries to question established medical expertise based on scientific research, the latter seeks to impose a specific criterion based on gender theory on European development institutions that run programmes benefitting from EU funds.

The report further “urges that the provision of humanitarian aid by the EU and the Member States should not be subject to restrictions imposed by other partner donors regarding necessary medical treatment, including access to safe abortion for women and girls who are victims of rape in armed conflicts.”

Imposing ideology instead of seeking EU consensus

In the end, the Noichl report is nothing but an unqualified attempt to push an ideological agenda. Instead of tackling the many real and existing issued faced by families, youths and women in Europe today, it rejects common sense – and ignores the voice of the vast majority of European families. The only adequate response to the Noichl report is to adopt the alternative resolution calling for renewed respect for the principle of subsidiarity.