The Istanbul Convention Encounters Major Setbacks

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The Istanbul Convention continues to meet obstacles, to arouse hostility wherever it is raised on its error-strewn path. Trumpeted as the “gold standard” by feminists in relation to programmes to deal with domestic violence, the Convention has conspicuously failed to be well received wherever tried nor has it convinced sceptics that its prescriptions will succeed.

The Convention was the basis for the Third National Strategy on Domestic Sexual and Gender-based Violence launched by Helen McEntee in June 2022. McEntee’s fatal decision to name a three person executive group, two of whom were radical feminists, to draw up the strategy  made this inevitable.

The Convention was introduced by stealth to the Oireachtas and passed the Dail without a word of comment from a single TD nor from a newspaper or radio station. No Minister came out to defend it in public or even to answer simple questions on its far-reaching proposals. How could they?

In truth it is the most draconian document ever to have passed through a democratic assembly and a monumental disgrace to those members who silently nodded it through. It is entirely worthy of a Stalinist state, a totalitarian nightmare without precedent in the 100 year history of the Irish state. We have already dealt in detail with this appalling document here.

Recent Setbacks

Two recent setbacks underline its unfailing capacity to encounter opposition, rejection.

The first setback  occurred in late January in the Czech Republic. After the Czech Senate scheduled a ratification vote on the policy, the Traditional Family Association launched a national petition that charged the “Istanbul Convention primarily deals with the implementation of gender ideology” and the “protection of women from domestic violence is only a pretext to achieve this goal.” The petition was signed by over 146,000 persons.

During the Jan 25 debate, opponents of the proposal emphasized the Convention had not reduced violence in the countries that had ratified it. After seven hours of heated debate, a majority of the senators voted against the divisive policy.

In its petition the Traditional Family Association stated that neither the Senate Constitutional and Legal Committee nor the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee supported the ratification of the Istanbul Convention; the first stated that the convention is “an ideological document that will not help victims of domestic violence in practical terms”.

In the words of Christine Anderson, Member of the European Parliament, the Istanbul Convention is based on “gender theories with no scientific basis” that “generates prejudices against men…due to its partial, biased, and discriminatory nature.”

Setback II

The second setback arose from a European Union effort to export the Istanbul Convention around the world, representing the most ambitious attempt ever to address domestic violence on a multi-country basis. The Spotlight Initiative was conducted in Africa (8 countries), Latin America (6 countries), Caribbean (6 countries), the Pacific (4 countries), and Asia (3 countries).

Launched in 2017 with an impressive budget of nearly 500 million euros, the Initiative sought to reshape entire countries according to feminist doctrine.

But the programme said nothing about addressing female-perpetrated violence, tackling the root causes of domestic violence such as alcohol abuse, or offering couples counselling.

Now an evaluation conducted by the European Court of Auditors revealed the programme was a failure. The Auditors summarized the enterprise thus: “There is no evidence of violence against women and girls having decreased in the various countries covered by the Spotlight Initiative”  P.39.

Bulgarian Constitutional Court

In July 2018  the Bulgarian Constitutional Court declared the Convention incompatible with the Fundamental Law due to its understanding of gender as a fluid construct, dependent on subjective feelings and different from sex.

An article by the Society and Values Association of Bulgaria told how the Bulgarian government came under huge pressure from EU officials to ratify the Convention. It went on ” Over 70% of the Bulgarian people were against it. There were many protests and lots of media coverage about it. Lots of parents, teachers, professors, doctors, NGOs etc. were against  it. The term “gender” became a bad word. ”

The gratitude  of opponents of the Convention are due to the Bulgarian Constitutional  Court for pointing to the phrase “gender identity” in Art 4.3 of the Convention. Many people hadn’t noticed this phrase when they first read the convention in 2016-17 before this phrase gained the significance it now enjoys. For the record here is the article:

4.3 The implementation of the provisions of this Convention by the parties, in particular measures to protect the rights of victims, shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, gender,…. sexual orientation, gender identity, …

This is the reason why not only Bulgaria but now the Czech Republic have pointed to the Istanbul Convention as an attempt to smuggle gender ideology into state laws.

The question must be asked: Why did the Council of Europe which framed the IC no later than 2010 see fit to introduce the phrase “gender identity” into Art 4.3?

Other Parliaments

Protester in Armenia

The Convention was put before the parliaments of both Azerbaijan and Armenia and rejected by both. Turkey withdrew from the Convention having ratified it initially. Currently six EU countries have not ratified it: Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Latvia and Lithuania. In what looks like a desperate measure, the EU itself ratified it in October 2023 as though the EU were itself a state.

When we consider the two recent setbacks along with the historic decision of the Danish Government last April to allocate equal resources to support services for male and female victims of domestic violence, a decision which directly contradicts the basic premises of the Istanbul Convention, we are forced to ask where does this leave the Convention?

The Danish Government recognises that  intimate partner violence is not gendered, is NOT gender-based as laid down by the Convention; further that men and women suffer equally from domestic abuse and ought to receive equal support services.

The actions of Denmark and other states  fly in the face of adamant and arrogant current demands from the EU, enshrined in an EU Directive no less, that all member states implement the Istanbul Convention whether they ratified it or not.


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