A sex education programme in Croatia has been slammed by the European Parliament because it encourages homophobia.

The programme is backed by the Roman Catholic Church and teaches that there should be no sex outside marriage, no safe sex, and no gay sex.

Croatia is not a member of the EU, but has applied to join and is regarded as likely to be admitted in 2009 or 2010.

In a letter sent to top Croatian officials seen by AFP, European Parliament deputies voiced “concern regarding the potential implementation … of a reproductive health and sexual curriculum put forward by the GROZD Association.”

The programme is accused of “supplying medically inaccurate and incomplete information about sexual and reproductive health and family planning as well as about available and legal contraceptive methods.”

Officials believe that the curriculum could encourage “stigma and discrimination.”

They also warned that it contradicts Croatian laws which prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The sex education programme has already been approved by the education ministry in Croatia, but it needs the approval of the health ministry before it can be introduced in schools.

Nearly 90 percent of Croatia’s population of 4.4 million are Roman Catholics.

Homosexuality was legalised in Croatia in 1977, and the age of consent was equalised in 1998. Most Croatians start having sex at the age of 17.