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European Parliament

Open Letter to MEPs on the Draft EU law on
Combatting Violence Against Women

Tell MEPs that we want clarity about what a woman is, access to female-only shelters and the rejection of all attempts to use EU law to commit ideological violence against women and children.

 

Dear   Frances Fitzgerald (EPP, Ireland), Evin Incir (S&D Sweden),  Nathalie Colin-Oesterlé (EPP, France), Pina Picierno (S&D, Italy), Maria Soraya Rodriguez Ramos (Renew, Spain), Lucia Duris Nicholsonova (Renew, Slovakia) Diana Riba i Giner (Spain, EFA), Sylwia Spurek (Poland, EFA), Christine Anderson (Germany, ID) Nicolaus Fest (Germany, ID), Margarita de la Pisa Carrion (Spain, ECR), Assita Kanko (Belgium, ECR), Malin Bjork (Sweden, Left) and Eugenia Rodriguez Palop (Spain, Left),

 

We are writing to you regarding the European Commission's proposal on combating violence against women and domestic abuse, and the amendments to this proposal which are currently being examined by the European Parliament's Committees on Civil Liberties and Women's Rights. WORIADS is a non-partisan coalition of concerned citizens, activists, and professionals from across Europe who insist that biological sex is real, important, and immutable and that it should not be conflated with gender. 

 

We believe that the proposal could be greatly improved by recognising that biological sex is now often confused with gender identity and that this has serious consequences for women's sex-based rights.  MEPs Lukas Mandl and Nathalie Colin-Oesterlé have tabled amendments which recognise that women are a biological sex class with specific needs and experiences and we would like to ask you to support them.  These amendments:

  • Recognise that biological sex is 1) real, important, and a key factor underlying violence against women and 2) provide clarity in terminology, data collection, education and training programs by defining women (and girls) as persons “of the female sex” (AM 745 Mandl)

  • Ensure that no female victim of violence self-excludes or suffers re-traumatisation because she is forced to share accommodation and sanitary facilities with male-bodied persons by making specific provisions for shelters that are “solely for female victims”.  Such shelters may of course exist alongside “gender-neutral” shelters.  (AM 564 Colin-Oesterlé)

  • Ensure that women, parents, health professionals and others are allowed to speak freely about the sex and gender-related issues affecting them by making it an aggravated offence to commit violent acts against a person as a result of a hostile attitude towards the victim because of his or her "political or other beliefs or opinions” (AM 956 Colin-Oesterlé)

 

We wish to insist that women and girls experience a disproportionate level of male violence and sexual assault on the basis of their sexed bodies regardless of any internal sense of gender or "gender identity".  With this in mind, we ask you to reject the numerous amendments which seek to replace “sex” with “gender” and extend special protections to sexual minorities such as homosexual men and males who self-identify as women. These groups should be covered by other legal instruments such as the EU Victims Directive.

 

We also ask that you reject amendments that pave the way for controversial gender-related concepts in to sex education for children and those which suggest that children can consent to life-altering hormone and surgical procedures to change their sex. Notably, we urge you to oppose AMs 345 & 800 by MEPs Angel et. al. and AMs 355 & 808 by Spurek, et. al. which refer to the ability of children to give informed consent to gender-affirming care as if the issue were already widely accepted and settled. In fact, countries like Sweden, Finland and the UK have already recognised that there is very little evidence or scientific consensus on whether the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgery, often with irreversible effects and lifelong medicalisation of healthy bodies, is the best option for these children. We also reject the idea of "comprehensive sexuality education" which according to UN  guidance advises that children as young as 5 should be asked to "reflect on how they feel about their biological sex and gender" and asks nine years olds to acknowledge that everyone has a "gender identity" and learn how to define their own. 

 

Moreover, we believe that AM 390 by MEPs Angel et.al. seeks to unduly silence medical professionals and parents who speak out against the gender-affirmative model of care by equating their concerns with "hate speech" and by pushing the coercive and ill-founded narrative that such children will commit suicide if they are not "affirmed". We ask you to reject amendment 390.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

WORIADS

 

Sign Now

Our voices do matter.

Let's use them collectively to tell MEPs that we want clarity about what a woman is, access to female-only shelters and the rejection of all attempts to use EU laws to commit ideological violence against women and children.

Signatories

Organisations

Citizens

Rona Duwe, DE, Feminist Activist

Celine Masson, FR, Academic

Laoise Aodha de Brún BL, IE, Feminist Activist

Rolando Florentin, BE, Concerned Parent

Muriel Petit, BE, Feminist Activist, LGB Supporter & Teacher

Fadila Maaroufi, BE, Feminist Activist, LGB Supporter, Concerned Parent & Citizen, Social Worker

Blandine Deverlanges, FR,  Feminist Activist, Concerned Citizen & Parent

Aurelie Labis, FR, Feminist Activist

Chantal Hervouet, FR, LGB Supporter

Marie Montague, FR, Feminist Activist & Concerned Citizen

Catherine Jongen, BE, Concerned Citizen, Therapist

Susan Bruce, FR, Concerned Citizen

Raphael Thuillier, FR, Academic, Concerned Parent & Citizen

Carole Barthès, FR, Feminist Activist

Maïté Degryse, FR, Concerned Parent

Audrey Ard, FR, Feminist Activist,  Academic

Elisabeth Fagois, FR, Concerned Citizen

Morgane Grosdidier, FR, Feminist Activist, Teacher

Armelle Loieillot, FR, Feminist Activist

Julie Houset, FR, LGB Supporter

Anabelle Debiève, BE,  Feminist Activist, Concerned Citizen

Marie Moisdon, FR, Concerned Citizen, Trainer: Combating Violence Against  Women

Emilie de Villeneuve,  BE, Concerned Parent

Stéphane Mitchell, CH, Feminist Activist, Parent Organisation

Aurore Pérez, FR, Feminist Activist, Concerned Citizen

Brigitte Buyck, BE, Concerned Parent

Suzy Eeckelaerts, BE, Concerned Citizen

Chris Vander Massen, BE, Concerned Parent

Nikolette Klare Szagmeiszter, HU, Feminist Activist

Martina Haardt, DE, LGB Group

Julia Kasper, DE, Concerned Citizen

Roula Kokoliou, ES, Concerned Citizen

Patricia Schulz, DE Concerned Citizen

Tania Smith, UK, Concerned Citizen

Sven Rettkowski, Concerned Citizen

Daniela Hempel, DE, Feminist Activist

Tom Katl, NL, Concerned Citizen

Dajana Forstreuter, DE, Concerned Parent

Anne-Louise Flynn, BE, Concerned Citizen

Frank Bucyk, BE, Concerned Citizen

John Young, IE, Concerned Citizen

Pascale Gouzouazi, FR, Concerned Citizen

Arne Vander Massen, BE, Concerned Parent & Citizen

Seila Lozano, ES, Feminist Activist

Rachel Sanger, SE, Feminist Activist

Zanne D'Aglio, IT, Feminist Activist

Anne Pettersen, NO, Concerned Citizen

Anna Beattie, NIR, Concerned Parent

Jill Nesbit, IE, Feminist Activist

Georgina Belenguer Ribera, ES, Feminist Activist

Caroline O'Brien, IE, Concerned Parent

Dierdre Nuttall, IE, Concerned Citizen

Catherine Wernick, IE, Concerned Citizen

Anne Rutledge, IE, Concerned Citizen

Lavinia Niall, IE, Concerned Parent

Aisling Considine, Concerned Parent

M. Xosé Gonzàlez, ES, Feminist Activist

Jenny Caughey, IE, Concerned Citizen

Yssmin Rooney, IE, Concerned Parent

Sue Riley, UK, Concerned Citizen

Mags Hodges, SCT, Concerned Citizen

Saara Hartikainen, FI, Concerned Citizen

Anna Pakkala, FI, Concerned Citizen

Emelie Engdahl, SE, LGB Supporter

Emma McCrory, NIR, Concerned Parent

Monica Jeric, SI, Concerned Citizen

Llanos Cabedo, ES, Concerned Citizen

Magdalena Grzyb, PL, Academic

Julia Anderson, IE, Concerned Citizen

Maria Josefa Hernandez Pérez, ES, Feminist Activist

Nuria Muina Garcia, CH, Feminist Activist

Juan Francisco Fernandez Vecilla, ES, Concerned Citizen

Maria Rosina Iglesias Puertas, ES, Feminist Activist, LGB Supporter, Concerend Citizen

Mar Alba Garcia

Yasmina Adrian Hernandez,  UK, Concerned Citizen

Rosa Rodriguez, ES Feminist Activist, Concerned Parent

Maria Molina, ES, Concerned Citizen

Maria Teresa Vado, ES, Feminist Activist

Sinuhé de Medina, ES, Concerned Citizen

Juana Gallego, ES, Academic

Silvia Galiana,  ES, Concerned Parent and Citizen, Academic

Mónica García, ES, Concerned Mother and Citizen

Erika Rodríguez, MX, Feminist Activist, LGB Supporter, Concerned Citizen

Paula O'Toole, IE, Concerned Parent

Matea Laurentis, SI

Maria Doyle, IE, Concerned Citizen

Gregorio Segovia, ES, Academic

Ruth Houldsworth, IE, Concerned Citizen

Anselmo Hernandez Santamaria, ES, Feminist Activist

Ana Reyes, ES, Concerned Citizen

Begoña Arostegui, ES, Feminist Activist

Mairead O Neill, IE, Concerned Citizen

María Luisa Saura Soler, ES, Feminist Activist

Eva Casero Armero, ES, Feminist Activist

Ursula Fillat Latorre, ES, Feminist Activist

Aranzazu Zarza, ES, Concerned Parent

Carmen Ortiz Corulla, ES, Feminist Activist

Martina Medina, ES, Concerned Citizen

Valentina Campos, ES, Feminist Activist

Ana Moran, ES,  Feminist Activist

Auxiliadora Escribano Jiménez, ES, Concerned Citizen

Beatriz Fernández, ES, Feminist Supporter

Tracey Corkery, IE, Teacher

Irene Cartas-Espinel, CL, Academic

Silvia Benussi, IT, Academic

Amelia Aparicio, ES, Medical Professional

Paula Castera, ES, Feminist Activist

Montserrat Sànchez, (ANDO), Feminist Activist

Mary Keegan, IE, Concerned Citizen

María Josefa Díaz-Caneja, ES, Concerned Citizen

Ignacio Javier Vicario Esteban, ES, Concerned Citizen

Margarita Álvarez, ES, Concerned Citizen

Deborah Apellido, ES, Concerned Citizen

Amparo Mañés Barbé, ES, Feminist Activist, Concerned Citizen

Tatiana Romon, BE, Concerned Parent

Florence Duphil, FR, Concerned Citizen

Araceli Fernández Prieto, ES, Woman, Concerned Grandparent

Andreia Nobre, BR, Feminist Activist

Learn More

We have prepared a more detailed briefing on the issues raised in our open letter to MEPs. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

What is a woman?
We need clarity.

Austrian MEP Lukas Mandl has suggested defining a woman (and girls) as "a person of the female sex". (Am 749) This adds some desperately needed clarity and accuracy to the debate.   Both in national, EU and international jurisprudence ‘sex’ is understood as a biological category that distinguishes women (females) and men (males). “Gender”, on the other hand, has no coherent definition in the EU law or policy and is often erroneously conflated with biological sex. It is often used as shorthand for “gender identity” which has been defined as “an internal sense of gender”. 


However, women and girls experience a disproportionate level of male violence and sexual assault on the basis of their sexed bodies regardless of their "gender identity".  With this in mind, we also ask you to reject the numerous amendments which seek to replace “sex” with “gender” and to extend special protections to sexual minorities such as males who self-identify as women.

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There is very little evidence that hormones are the best option for kids

We oppose AM 345 by MEPs Angel et. al. and AM 355 by Spurek, & Riba i Giner which do a great disservice to our children by continuing policies that often lead to healthy young girls becoming lifelong patients and undergoing mutilation with irreversible consequences. The intent of these amendments (and related AMs 800 and 808) is to make 'intersex genital mutilation' a criminal offence unless the child gives informed consent. The criteria for a child's informed consent include understanding the facts, assessing the risks, and weighing the short and long-term consequences. In these amendments, however, it is made clear that this consent requirement does not apply to children who "consent" to "gender-affirming hormonal treatments or access to hormone inhibitors." 

 

It is disingenuous to refer to the ability of children to give informed consent to gender-affirming care as if the issue were already widely accepted and settled. In fact, there is very little evidence or scientific consensus on whether the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgery, often with irreversible effects and lifelong medicalisation of healthy bodies, is the best option for these children.  A more cautious approach is needed, as in pioneer countries such as Sweden and Finland, which are now backing off after seeing the damage of a trans-affirmative approach.

 

Moreover, we believe that AM 390 by MEPs Angel et.al. seeks to unduly silence medical professionals and parents who speak out against the gender-affirmative model of care by equating their concerns with "hate speech". This amendment pushes the coercive and debunked narrative that such children will commit suicide if they are not "affirmed". 

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Sex education must be age appropriate & based on science

We believe the Commission’s proposal encouraging preventative measures strengthening “sexuality education socio-emotional competencies, empathy and developing healthy and respectful relationships” is sufficient. However, the reference to “age-appropriate” sexuality education in AM 607 (Chinnici et.al.) is welcome. Still, we regret that there is no mention of the need to base such education on science. We also reject the idea of "comprehensive sexuality education" which according to UN  guidance advises that children as young as 5 should be asked to "reflect on how they feel about their biological sex and gender" and asks nine years olds to "acknowledge that everyone has a gender identity" and learn how to define their own.

 

Education addressing sexuality and gender stereotypes should be based on facts, informed by realities and tailored to the target audience. This has been highlighted by both the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the Committee on the Rights of the Child in their joint general recommendation (No. 31). The recommendation underlines the importance of “age-appropriate education, which includes science-based information on sexual and reproductive health”.

 

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Access to female only shelters.

French MEP Nathalie Oesterlé is calling for shelters which are solely for female victims (AM 564). This would ensure female victims get trauma-sensitive care that takes account of their personal sense of dignity, privacy and safety. For many female victims of male violence, having to share rape crisis services or domestic abuse shelters with persons born male (regardless of how they self-identify) could lead some of the most vulnerable women to self-exclude or suffer from re-traumatisation. 

 

While the proposal for "single-sex" shelters sounds attractive, it fails to clarify what "single-sex" means. In countries like Belgium, Spain and Ireland it is possible to legally self-identify as the opposite "sex", which means it would still be possible for any fully intact male to access female spaces.  It is also unclear what "single gender" means. Does this refer to biological sex or gender identity? How many "gender identities" are there and is it really feasible to have shelters for each of them?  Gender is not the same as sex – so this proposal adds confusion.

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Keep ideologically charged language out of EU law

Amendments 345 and 355  also introduce the ideologically charged words  "assigned female sex at birth".  Advanced medical testing now correctly determines the sex of male and female children, including intersex children - or, to be more scientifically accurate, children with variations in sex development (VSD).  Rather than being "assigned" at birth, sex is simply recorded using the genitalia as a very reliable predictor of the underlying gonadal type. The term "assigned" implies that a medical error may have occurred, which, while it may be true on rare occasions, does not immediately call into question everyone's sex.

 

Furthermore, the claim that biological sex is "assigned at birth" is highly misleading because it establishes a false equivalence between transgender people and those who are born with VSD. The suggestion is that felt identity, rather than reproductive anatomy, defines a person's biological sex. We need to continue to recognize that biological sex exists and is important, for example, in the treatment of certain sex-related health problems. For transgender people themselves, denying that they have a biological sex from before birth negates their own claims to the need for sex reassignment.

 

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Our voices matter

It is increasingly difficult for women, parents, health professionals and others to speak freely as citizens about sex and gender issues. Voices calling for sex-based rights and a more careful approach to the gender-affirmative model of care are drowned out by accusations of hate speech and transphobia. Often these accusations are accompanied by violence or threats of violence both on and offline. 

 

We welcome amendment 956 from Nathalie Colin-Oesterlé MEP making it an aggravated offence to commit violent acts against a person as a result of a hostile attitude towards the victim because of his or her "political or other beliefs or opinions".

 

Sign Now

What's the point of signing this open letter? MEPs are not going to listen to us anyways. You are probably right.  But at least they can not say they didn't know. And maybe, if you add your voice to all the others that have supported this campaign, it will be the one that finally shatters their soundproof ceiling.

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