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Religion, going backwards and bankruptcy? Common concerns about sexual health in Europe

by Antón Castellanos Usigli, October 4, 2012

When thinking of Europe, some people tend to think in an utopian perfection. As some European countries are economically developed, people living in developing countries think that Europe face no social or political problems. However, the current global turmoil has challenged this European stereotype of perfection. The creation of the Euro was questioned and the situation in countries such as Greece, Italy and Spain has threatened its existence. This has caused political instability, as popular demonstrations as consequence of high rates of unemployment and debt are on the rise…

Groups of European youths now fear for their present and future, not only in economical, educational or social terms, but also in sexual health terms.

Two weeks ago, the 11th Congress of the European Federation of Sexology (EFS) took place in Madrid with participations from high profile experts such as Eli Coleman, Alain Giami, Woet Gianotten, Chiara Simonelli, Miren Larrazabal, Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad, among many others. What was historic about this EFS Congress is that, for the first time, a Youth Symposium took place, as well as a Round Table of Discussion among European youths about sexual health, with both events being organized by the Youth Initiative of the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS). What really surprised me about the Round Table of Discussion were the fears that are commonly shared by young advocates in Europe: fear that the economical situation will reduce the budgets for sexual health programs and organizations, fears that neo-conservative movements will promote laws and bills that damage sexual rights, and fears that religion will continue to have a strong influence in the government’s decisions about sexual health programs, sexual education and rights for LGBT people, particularly in Spain, Italy and Eastern Europe. I come from a country (Mexico) where Catholicism also has a huge influence in politics, and it’s a pit to see that in fact few European Countries have set the example for secularity and proper divisions between the State and the Church. Young advocates cannot erase this point from their agendas, and we definitely have to erase the idea that certain parts of the world have achieved complete political, economical, social or sexual health”perfection”…

The participants of the Youth Round Table of Discussion of the EFS Congress in Madrid