15 Dec 2018

“Think of the children!” Again.

Among many absurd tactics of campaigners against the Istanbul Convention, one manages to stand out. It’s a series of claims that the document designed to combat violence against women is -- bad for children.

Tijana Cvjeticanin
Tijana Cvjeticanin Istinomjer, Bosnia and Herzegovina
“Think of the children!” Again. - NewsMavens
Children marching, PixaBay

A Croatian website titled "The truth about the Istanbul’s (convention)" [sic] was the hub of a religious right campaign against the ratification of the Istanbul Convention in Croatia. In an attempt to present the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention) as a threat to “family values”,  it used its “fact sheet” Gender Ideology Worldwide, to make several claims about the supposed devastating effects of “gender ideology” on children.


A claim using preschool children to stir moral panic, states:

In Sweden, children participate in gay pride parade as a part of preschool sex-ed class!

Next to this sentence is a picture of a small boy with a disgusted expression on his face, as he stands in front of a naked man whose genitals are exposed. While the picture has no caption, it clearly suggests that this is what happens when children are taken to Pride parades.


The origin of the claim is probably a right-wing blog titled “Swedish Surveyor”, which describes itself as "Scrutinizing politically correct madness for the masses". In 2015, an entry titled "Pre-school in Gothenburg forced 120 children to join a pride parade" was published on the blog, with a screenshot of kids waving rainbow flags, taken from an article written in Swedish. But the original article has a considerably different title, translating to “Preschool Hagahuset organized a pride train”.

The “pride train” -- kids and teachers walking together and holding rainbow flags -- happened three days before Gothenburg’s yearly LGBTI festival (local pride parade), so the claim that kids “joined the pride” is false. The original fake news was additionally “spiked” with a claim that preschoolers’ participation in pride parades is common practice and a part of sex education -- which in Sweden starts in fifth grade, not in preschool.

Another manipulative practice on display here is the illustration used for the claim. The photograph described above is neither from Sweden, nor from any Pride parade. It was taken in 2010 at “Bay 2 Breakers”, a footrace held annually in San Francisco, California. Public nudity was common at “Bay 2 Breakers” events, as San Francisco allowed it until 2012, when it introduced stricter regulations (although not a complete ban).


We rate this claim as just plain fake news and an example of intersectional discrimination.


Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

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