Interights v. Croatia (European Social Charter Collective Complaints Mechanism)


Primary Content

The case challenged the sexual education curriculums in Croatia that are religious and ideology-based models. Such programs, while claiming to provide youth with tools to lead healthier and more moral lives, have failed to provide adolescents with objective, accurate and scientifically-based information on key reproductive health issues, including contraception, abortion and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. The Center and our partners sought to establish that such curriculums are unconstitutional and in violation of international human rights, including the rights to information, education, health, and non-discrimination. In August 2009, the European Social Charter Collective Complaints Mechanism found that Croatia had violated the non-discrimination provision of the European Social Charter because of the content of sexuality education curricula.

Filing date: October 10, 2007

Country/Region: Croatia

Plaintiff(s): International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights (Interights)

Center Attorney(s): Christina Zampas

Partners: 1) CESI Croatia and 2) Interights

Summary: The Center for Reproductive Rights, Interights, and Centre for Education and Counseling of Women (CESI) submitted a complaint with the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) against Croatia for its sponsorship of a discriminatory, gender-biased and medically inaccurate extra-curricula sex education program. The brief also argues that the state has failed to protect its youth by providing comprehensive sexuality education in schools to all youth. , The groups argue that Croatia is endangering the lives of its young people through misleading and inadequate sex education and is therefore, in breach of its obligations under a major international human rights treaty, the European Social Charter. , The complaint was filed in October 2007.

Croatia has sponsored the extracurricular sex-education program Teen STAR for a decade and is now seeking to mandate a nearly identical program. Teen STAR (Sexuality Teaching in the context of Adult Responsibility) draws on Catholic teachings, promoting abstinence at the expense of other viable alternatives such as contraception. Its founder and international director, Dr. Hanna Klaus is based in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Klaus says that Teen STAR has been awarded a U.S. government PEPFAR grant.