Croatia: Prime Minister’s wife’s conflict of interests and sex education in schools

Timothy Tate and Judith Reisman   Photo: Boris Kovacev/Cropix

Timothy Tate and Judith Reisman Photo: Boris Kovacev/Cropix

Croatian association “Parents’ Voice For Children” (GROZD) has, according to Dnevno.hr news portal, 11 February, sent Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic an open letter in which it seeks the convening of an extraordinary Government meeting. GROZD seeks the exclusion of Professor Aleksandar Stulhofer from the government’s advisory committee on sex education in schools program and an investigation into the matter of seeing whether Prof. Stulhofer is associated with exposing children to pornography and the spreading of pedophilia in the Republic of Croatia.

Remove from duties the Minister for Science, Education and Sport, Mr Jovanovic, and prevent him from working in any similar position within the government of the Republic of Croatia because, due to many omissions in his work unscientific program that rests upon gender ideology and follows the directions of the World Congress of Sexologists which, among other things, promotes pedophilia, has been introduced in all schools in Croatia”, the open letter says.

According to Dnevno.hr portal, GROZD also seeks the annulment of Minister Jovanovic’s decision that makes the health education program mandatory for all school students. It also states that Stulhofer, besides being a scholar and an associate of the Kinsey Institute in U.S.A., has been collaborating for many years with persons who are declared pedophiles. GROZD emphasises that Stulhofer was against the raising of the legal age from 14 to 16 for sexual intercourse with adults in Croatia.

GROZD offered a warning, once again, that Stulhofer has introduced topics into sex education curriculum that give space for the promotion of pedophilia and endangerment of children who are entrusted to the education system of Croatia.

We take the liberty to ask you to withdraw your wife, dr. Music Milanovic, from the government’s advisory committee on the development of the curriculum because it is a fact that she is one of five members of that committee, possibly giving a false credibility to Prof. Stulhofer and to the non-scientific and ideological foundations of the school program”, concludes GROZD in its letter to Prime Minister Milanovic.

Whether Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic’s wife’s role in the government’s advisory committee on school curriculum for health (sex) education constitutes a serious conflict of interest in action is a matter that I cannot go into because I do not possess any factual information as to the workings of this committee and into any safety or precautionary procedures that may be in place to avoid detrimental effects conflict of interest may have on the sex education program introduced as mandatory component of school education in Croatia. However, when considering conflict of interest one must not only look at the actual situation of conflict of interests but also the “perceived” conflict of interest must also be eliminated. Judging from the Parents’ association GROZD letter to the Prime Minister there is no doubt that perceived conflict of interest exists in the minds of the stakeholders and the public when it comes to the  mandatory sex education in schools curriculum. This, in any fair and true democracy must be avoided and it would seem to me that Zoran Milanovic’s wife should resign her position on the committee as a matter of decency towards the public’s perception and fears; as a matter of furthering democracy in Croatia.

The fact that the sex education in Croatian schools was introduced without adequate (or any) public/parent consultation is a tragedy for the relatively young democracy.  It has brought serious rifts between the Church and the state,
it has seen the harshest (without reasonable foundation) of disciplining of journalist Karolina Vidovic Kristo, it has seen barrages of offensive remarks against dr. Judith Reisman, but it has also brought home the realisation that Croatia has a long way to go in its path of building democracy into all facets of public life.

British investigative journalist and filmmaker summarises the issues of and around the mandatory sex education program in Croatian schools in the video clip below:

Disciplining of journalist Karolina Vidovic Kristo for simply offering to the public information associated with sex education in school is, as Timothy Tate says: “…indicative of a mentality which is not democratic, which is not comfortable with difficult facts brought out into the public arena. You can’t stop free speech if you want to be a democracy. It would be unthinkable in Britain for the Prime Minister of Britain to stand up in parliament, as your Prime Minister stood up in parliament, and essentially trash the reputation of a journalist for bringing to light of something that should be brought to light ”.

Indeed! But then the wife of the British, the Australian … Prime Minister would not sit on the government’s advisory committee for the development of school education curricula.  It is a long established fact that school education curricula are the responsibility of governments but are also a fertile ground for the promotion or furtherance of political orientations and views. It is on that note that school education curricula must be independent of any political parties and that any real or perceived conflict of interest be removed from them. Otherwise, the way things seem in Croatia at this moment, democracy has a long way to travel before its roots are planted in all avenues of daily, ordinary lives of citizens. And, finally, as the plot around public outcries against or for the imposed mandatory school sex education program in Croatia thickens with the revelation that Prime Minister’s wife sat on the government’s advisory committee for the program, one wonders how much and whether the pro-government’s public noises were in fact trying to cover up the possible government-linked conflict of interest involved in the final cut of the program. It’s a matter of “watch this space”, but one cannot but applaud dr Judith Reisman for her announcement of defamation lawsuits against the media outlets and individuals in Croatia who had set out to shred her reputation. Dr Reisman may yet be a heroine that will demonstrate to the Croatian public that freedom of speech in a democracy is a sanctity regulated by the rule of defamation law. Ina Vukic, Prof (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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