Doc. MUDr. Jaroslav Zvěřina CSc., poslanec Evropského parlamentu

Interview from Jaroslav Zverina, MEP (PPE/CZ), doctor of medicine - psychiatrist and sexologist, Chairman of the Sexological Society of the Czech Medical Association

Alix Chambris, Cafébabel Bruxelles, 31.01.06

As a western citizen, I didn’t know that sexology was a well developed discipline in Central Europe, can you explain us more about it?
Sexology as a discipline has developed indeed very early in our countries. The first sexual institute was established in Berlin by Magnus Hirschfeld in 1918 and it was later destroyed by the Nazis regime. Sexological institute was founded in Prague in 1921. Professor Hynie, the founder of Czech sexology published his Handbook of sexology in 1944. This discipline also developed in Moscow from the 60s onward. Western European Countries have not developed this discipline so much, I think. They have created in the opposite a number of different sexological subspecialisation dealing with the same subject within great medical disciplines (gynaecology, psychiatry, urology)

Are there some differences in sexual behaviour between Eastern and Western Europe?
No, you cannot talk from substantial differences. If Central European Countries are still more conservative than their western counterpart, this is a rapidly evolving trend which can be explained through the development of mass media such as internet and the decreasing (if not disappearing) influence of Catholic Church on people’ sexual behaviour. In Czech Republic for instance, active catholics account only for 5% of the population.

Both regional areas face a negative demographic trend. In Central Europe it can be explained by a changing culture and political system which create an insecure environment. Czech Republic might be an exception in this pattern as it is currently experiencing a small baby boom –this is connected with a postponement of fertility by women after the Velvet revolution, women had first to focus on their carrier building and adaptation to the new system.

And what about homosexuality?
In Czech Republic, homosexuality has been definitely decriminalised at the very beginning of the 90s. Under the socialist time, homosexuality was considered indeed a criminal act. A law legalising homosexual couples, such as those existing in France, Germany or UK, has been recently adopted by our two parliament's chambers but is now waiting for the assessment of the president. We know that the president is personally against this law but I hop he would not be ready to go against public opinion (70% is in favour). The EU accession and the necessary transposal of EU acquis have also obliged Central European States to enshrine in their legal system the forbidding of discrimination based on sexual behaviours.

There is a problem however of lack of dialogue on these issues. Debate on social issues, in former socialist countries, is much more dependent on states. 1968 has not led to a sexual revolution for instance. The debate on sexuality was lead by the government such as through the organisation of big campaigns against HIV/AIDS pandemic at the beginning of the 80s. Western NGOs, today, have had however a positive influence on the sustaining of dialogue in the civil society.

Do you have some information on multicultural couples in Europe and about their chances for success?
The number of multicultural couples within my country is still limited but increasing. Of course bi-national families have a major role to play in the building of Europe, but it takes time. I don’t know any study on this issue, but I think the success of multicultural couples must depend on the size of the cultural gap between the two partners. You cannot talk of any big cultural gap between EU countries though! Let’s see next decade where we are…

Can you explain the development of celibacy in Europe?
The popularity of marriage has indeed decreased significantly in developed countries. This phenomenon has several reasons. One of the most important is the changing role of woman. The traditional dominance of men has been substituted with a “partner’s model”, without any clear distribution of power. Such an arrangement is of course not so stable. Today, we define our new sexual habits as “successive monogamy”. Sex remains a couple behaviour but couples became more fragile. The effect of this model on children is however less clear.

To conclude would you like to give the euro generation some practical advices to succeed in their couple?
Compatible personalities are very important to my knowledge and of course, elementary altruism and a sense of responsibility. Human sexual couples have also a strong reproductive aspect. Children need both parents and a stable environment to grow up properly.

The modern “west” society needs children to reverse the current demographic trend but also for the development of certain values connected with parentality. I think of altruistic values and the sense of responsibilities. The development of celibacy is more often connected with individualistic values and egoism. Revolutionary or extremist people usually don’t have any children!

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