Bible, Gender and Istanbul Convention

The Istanbul Convention under the guise of protecting women promotes gender ideology. Photo: UOJ

In 2011, 46 European countries signed the Convention against domestic violence. However, what threat does it pose to the family and the Church?

Recently, the number of countries declaring their withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention has been on the rise: Hungary, Poland, Turkey and others. In Bulgaria, under pressure from the Church, the convention was not ratified. But in Ukraine, there is serious arm-wrestling about the ratification of the Istanbul Convention. The Church is dead set against its adoption, while the feminist organizations are in favor of it. What is this convention about, what is written there and what is the position of the Church in its respect?

What is Istanbul Convention and what is it written for?

The full title of this document is as follows: Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence. It was signed or rather opened for signature by the countries of the Council of Europe on May 11, 2011, during the 121st session of the Committee of Ministers in Istanbul. On August 1, 2014, it entered into force for those countries that signed and ratified it (approved by a parliamentary decision). To date, it has been signed by 46 countries, including Ukraine on November 7, 2011, and separately by the European Union. However, a number of countries, including Ukraine, have not yet ratified the Istanbul Convention.

Protests against the Istanbul Convention in Croatia. Photo: logosinfo.org

Today, a reverse process has started: the countries that have not ratified the Convention began to declare that they would not do this, while those who ratified it – that they intend to denounce (withdraw from) it.

Turkey, which was the first to ratify the Istanbul Convention on March 12, 2012, is currently considering withdrawing from it. After the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, this step is a logical continuation of Turkey's policy of abandoning so-called European values in favor of Islam.

In May 2020, the Hungarian Parliament voted against the ratification of the Istanbul Convention.

The way to combat violence is not about teaching a few young boys that they can wear dresses and play with dolls.

Deputy Minister of Justice of Poland

On July 25, 2020, Zbigniew Zebro, Minister of Justice of Poland, announced that his country was starting the procedure for denunciation of the Istanbul Convention. His deputy Marcin Romanovsky, specified the main reason for this decision on Twitter: “The way to combat violence is not about teaching a few young boys that they can wear dresses and play with dolls. The Istanbul Convention <...> is neo-Marxist propaganda that turns our world of values upside down. <…> The Istanbul Convention speaks of religion as the cause of violence against women. We call it gender gibberish ...”

Istanbul Convention and Ukraine

Activists call for ratification of the Convention in Ukraine: Photo: dw.com

As for Ukraine, in February 2020, an electronic petition from a number of public organizations demanding to ratify the Istanbul Convention received the required 25,000 votes and was submitted to the President of Ukraine for consideration. The urgency of considering the issue of ratification, according to supporters of the Convention, has increased significantly with the introduction of quarantine. According to the UN, there is a significant increase in the incidence of domestic violence all over the world due to lockdown, on average by 30%. Although statistics show that the operation of the Convention in a particular country does not affect the dynamics of domestic violence. For example, in the UK, which has not ratified the Convention, the number of complaints about domestic violence has increased by 50%, but at the same time in Italy, which ratified the document back in 2013, this figure is 55%.

In Ukraine, the statistics are rather ambiguous. On the one hand, as Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Yekaterina Pavlichenko said, with the introduction of quarantine, there was no increase in the number of police calls with regard to domestic violence. On the other hand, Dominika Stoyanoska, head of the UN Women in Ukraine Office, claims that the number of hotline calls to prevent domestic violence has grown by 30% since the beginning of lockdown. According to proponents of the Convention, the absence of the same growth rates in the official statistics of the Ministry of Internal Affairs is explained by the alleged fact that women who have experienced domestic violence do not rely on law enforcement agencies and prefer to contact organizations like Women in Ukraine. 

In our country, there is no effective protection mechanism against domestic violence. But if the Istanbul Convention were ratified, then such a mechanism, according to activists, would supposedly appear.

Protection of women or gender promotion? 

The All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (AUCCRO) opposed the ratification of the Istanbul Convention and sent a letter with a corresponding demand to the Prime Minister of Ukraine. The main reason for this position, according to the AUCCRO, is the concept of "gender", which in the Istanbul Convention is defined not as a person's biological sex but as his/her self-identification.

“The fears of believers of different faiths stem from the obligation under Article 14 of the Istanbul Convention to include material on non-stereotypical gender roles in formal curricula at all levels of education. The adverse implications of such an approach in the Istanbul Convention may be the encouragement of Ukrainian schoolchildren to reflect on the change of sex (“gender”) and the popularization of same-sex relations as a norm,” the letter of the AUCCRO said.

Let's take a look at the text of Art. 14. It is called “Education” and reads as follows: “Parties shall take, where appropriate, the necessary steps to include teaching material on issues such as equality between women and men, non-stereotyped gender roles, mutual respect, non-violent conflict resolution in interpersonal relationships, gender-based violence against women and the right to personal integrity, adapted to the evolving capacity of learners, in formal curricula and at all levels of education.

Parties shall take the necessary steps to promote the principles referred to in paragraph 1 in informal educational facilities, as well as in sports, cultural and leisure facilities and the media.”

According to the definition of the World Health Organization, the concept of "gender" is used to describe those characteristics of men and women that are socially acquired, such as norms, roles and existing relationships between them. Supporters of gender ideology count up to 300 different genders, including Cisgender Female – female pre-gender, Trans (asterisk) Male being transitional to male sexual state, and other exotic. According to the Istanbul Convention, these are all “non-stereotypical gender roles”, the study of which should be included “in formal curricula and at all levels of education”.

According to Art. 10 of the Law of Ukraine "On Education", there are 13 levels of education in our country, ranging from preschool education to the scientific level of higher education. The Istanbul Convention provides for the study of “non-stereotypical gender roles” at all these levels.

The Convention is a "suitcase" with a double or even triple bottom.

However, the imposition of a gender ideology on the Ukrainian people, starting from kindergarten, is only one of the points to make people protest against the Istanbul Convention.

The fact is that the Convention is a "suitcase" with a double or even triple bottom. It allegedly deals with the fight against domestic violence, which none of the normal people can approve, but the text of the document, figuratively speaking, in small print, is not only about violence against women. It also says about the actual encouragement of illegal migration. This is the subject of Chapter VII, which is called “Migration and Asylum”. For example, according to Art. 61 "Non-refoulment" of the Istanbul Convention, "Parties shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to respect the principle of nonrefoulement in accordance with existing obligations under international law." That is, an illegal migrant has only to declare their alleged gender-based persecution not to be expelled from the country.

The Istanbul Convention, without any diguise, calls for eradication of all traditional ideas about the social roles of men and women. Art. 12 declares about it in plain text.

Simultaneously with the demand to introduce propaganda of gender ideology at all levels of education, covered like a fig leaf with the phrase “where appropriate”, the Istanbul Convention calls for eradication of all traditional ideas about the social roles of men and women without any disguise. Art. 12 speaks about it in plain text: “Parties shall take the necessary measures to promote changes in the social and cultural patterns of behaviour of women and men with a view to eradicating prejudices, customs, traditions and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority of women or on stereotyped roles for women and men."

This means that the state, which has ratified the Convention, must prohibit what the Church teaches: “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman;” (1 Cor. 11: 3-11). This doctrine is declared as an unacceptable prejudice and must be rooted out. This follows from the text of the Convention.

Another alarming, to put it mildly, moment is the encouragement of "domestic spying" being formally referred to as reporting, and this is not about the facts of violence. You can just let your imagination run wild – that's enough.

Pursuant to Art. 27, “Parties shall take the necessary measures to encourage any person witness to the commission of acts of violence covered by the scope of this Convention or who has reasonable grounds to believe that such an act may be committed, or that further acts of violence are to be expected, to report this to the competent organisations or authorities. Parties shall take the necessary measures to encourage any person witness to the commission of acts of violence covered by the scope of this Convention or who has reasonable grounds to believe that such an act may be committed, or that further acts of violence are to be expected, to report this to the competent organisations or authorities." Needless to say, the provisions of this article give unlimited opportunities for abuse. In case of any disagreement with the husband, the wife or mother-in-law can call the police and report that she "has reasonable grounds to believe that such an act (of violence – Ed.) may be committed," and so with the help of the police not only to prove to her husband that he is “wrong”, but also to earn “encouragement”.

How should a believer approach the Istanbul Convention?

The Istanbul Convention is nothing more than an attempt, under the specious pretext of combating domestic violence, to impose the gender ideology on people, and from a very young age. This ideology is nothing but the overthrow of the foundations of human existence. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). Instead, we are offered today up to 300 different genders.

Moreover, based on the text of the Holy Scriptures, it can be assumed that gender, as such, was known in the ancient world. The book of Deuteronomy says: "A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God" (Deut. 22: 5).

The Bible gives the ideology of gender an unequivocal verdict: it is an abomination to the Lord.

However, the ancient iconographic, and not only, images of men and women show us that in ancient times there were almost no differences between men's and women's clothing. Then what is the book of Deuteronomy about? Presumably, that it is precisely about what we call gender today, i.e. about the manner of behavior, social role, gender identity. Saint Ambrose of Mediolana interprets this Bible verse as follows: “If you truly look into this, you will see that it is indecent what the nature itself is alienated from. Why, man, do you not want to be who you were born? Why are you choosing a different guise? Why do you become like a woman, or you, a woman, like a man? Nature has clothed each sex with appropriate clothing. Finally, the treatment is different, the skin color, movements, gait are different, the strengths are different, the voice of a man and a woman is different."

The Bible gives the ideology of gender an unequivocal verdict: it is an abomination to the Lord.

Nevertheless, rejecting the adoption of the Istanbul Declaration, it is necessary to offer something in return, some measures to counter domestic violence, which is certainly unacceptable from whatever point of view. The All-Ukrainian Council of Churches proposed "to develop the national legislation of Ukraine on combating domestic violence and violence against women" instead of ratifying the Istanbul Convention. This proposal seems logical but ineffective, since no legislative formulation can regulate such a sensitive sphere of relations as intra-family. It can only open new venues for abuse.

***

In order to actually, rather than imaginary, fight against domestic violence, it is necessary not to eradicate "prejudices, customs and traditions", but rather to teach children a traditional Christian attitude in the family. In a broad sense, it means the fulfillment of the commandment of love for one's neighbor, and in the narrow sense, i.e. the relationship of a husband to a wife, it is the fulfillment of the words of the Apostle Peter: Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3: 7).

If every father instills the aforesaid attitude in his son towards his wife-to-be, there will be no need in Istanbul conventions.

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