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08 February, 2023
 
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Has politics become a seedy business?

Andreas Themistocles' hate speech and comments on sex education have highlighted the political deficit

Marina Economides

Marina Economides

Last Friday's plenary session of the Parliament was marred by the speech of the now-independent MP Andreas Themistocleous on the occasion of the passage of the law on sexual education in schools. He warned from the floor that we are facing a "pornographic homosexual storm." But it was also a speech designed to mislead, triggering fear reflexes, when he said, "we do not give anyone the right over our own children to go and plant in their minds from the age of 6 to 18 their own beliefs, opinions, sometimes perverse ones."  Sotiris Ioannou, an ELAM MP, continued, "Hands off children," saying that "we need respect for the purity and sanctity of childhood."

According to the reports from that day, there were "fires" and chaos, but in Parliament, the idea that "everyone is the same" and the general denigration of political figures do little to change the political climate. Averof Neophytou asked the MP to retract his references to "AKEL's MEP," but Aristos Damianou of AKEL was the first to have the reflexes to spot the hate speech from the floor of the Parliament, leaving, as well as AKEL's Secretary General Stefanos Stefanou, who called him a political bully.  It was also appropriate for Speaker of the Parliament Anita Demetriou to intervene and make it clear to ELAM that she owes them nothing,  neither to ELAM nor to DISY, who appointed her, and consequently revoking his right to speak.

The incentives for every Parliamentarian "are equal" and the general discrediting of political officials do not help to improve the political landscape.

Despite the isolated reactions, a quick glance at social media will reveal the harm this reality distortion has done. It is unconstitutional for the legislature to influence education policy. And because of the extremes that have been expressed on the House floor, we are very concerned about the precedent that is being set. In the end, however, it must be said that the House was forced to convey the idea that sex education ought to be taught at all levels. A letter to the Ministry of Education, which despite adopting the National Strategy to Combat Sexual Abuse in 2016 took no action.

Therefore, passing it is a political act, especially in light of the rising number of child abuse incidents. Consequently, it is important to teach children early on the importance of consent and learning to say no when it makes them uncomfortable. In addition to learning precautions, they should also learn how to safeguard their bodies and their health. to be aware that it is illegal for a minor to engage in sexual activity with an adult and to be aware of their legal rights. Additionally, they ought to learn to value and respect diversity. Only professionals in schools can deliver appropriate and secure sex education. When some lawmakers fail to grasp this issue or when it is misrepresented on the altar of populism, then the problem is greater.

The issue was clear from what some of the members—and Andreas Themistocles in particular—said. However, Andreas Themistocleous didn't show up in this nation's political scene today so that we could watch him take a stand while falling from the clouds. He was initially welcomed and chosen by DISY. He is to be blamed for his political presence.  He also cited the plurality of the party and the will of the people each time he got away with making ironic attacks against other MPs. Today, we see how discouraging it is when a politician's extreme statements go unpunished. Are we now going to oppose the popular will, someone will ask? Unfortunately, elected officials who use vulgar language, disseminate untrue information, and engage in rhetoric laced with hatred are also poisoning democracy—politicians who, despite presenting themselves as their citizens' saviors, deceive and threaten their future.

That is precisely why democratic arc parties must isolate all those who spread poison. When populism is sown, storms follow. When you join forces with the far right to 'blunt the opposition front,' when you gladly accept the far right's vote to elect the President of the Parliament, you will be asked for a change for the favor they did you.

The parties that want to protect society from populism can provide the solution by refraining from embracing or collaborating with such individuals for political reasons. Parties that are willing to speak the truth to their constituents rather than bending over backward to appease them in the short term. even today. Otherwise, our political life will sadly return to the squalor we saw last week in Parliament. our social collapse. 

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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Cyprus  |  politics  |  parliament

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