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Protest against sex education in school draws anti-LGBTQ+, anti-secular crowds

08:59 19/09/2023

A demonstration was held at Place de l'Albertine in central Brussels on Sunday by people opposed to mandatory sex education in schools.

“Our children are ours and we will raise them according to our principles and values,” the protests’ organisers wrote on Facebook.

Participants were protesting a recent decision in French-speaking education to make two hours a year of sex education compulsory for sixth-grade primary school pupils and the fourth grade of secondary education.

The Evras guide (Education à la vie relationnelle, affective et sexuelle) has existed since 2012 and is meant to be a manual for sex educators, but was previously not compulsory.

About 1,500 people were estimated to have been in attendance and the rallying speech did not limit itself to addressing only sex education, including anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments and denouncing the decriminalisation of abortion.

Anti-feminist and anti-CAL (Centre d'Action Laïque) slogans were also chanted, with accusations of attempts to “destroy the family”.

"Evras confronts our children with things that are not suitable for them," protestors claimed.

Demonstrators included families, Catholic activists and members of the Muslim community. A number of Brussels mosques called for the demonstration.

Following the change in policy, several hundred people also protested in front of the parliament of the French Community and fires were set at several Walloon schools.

During the night from last Thursday to Friday, a fire was set at a school in Montignies-sur-Sambre, making it the sixth school in the Charleroi region to be hit by fire in a week week. Graffiti referring to Evras was found in the case of four of those schools.

According to La Dernière Heure, two schools in Liège were also victims of vandalism and/or arson during the night from Thursday to Friday. At least one school was defaced with anti-Evras slogans.

There are no known cases of arson in Brussels yet, according to the fire brigade.

Dutch-language schools are also receiving questions about sex education and the director of the Unesco school in Koekelberg told Bruzz that unrest is spreading.

Belgium’s prime minister Alexander De Croo said that the federal security services had stepped up screening of all websites relaying information on the Evras guide set up by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation.

Photo: Timon Ramboer/Belga

Written by Helen Lyons