Saturday

9th Dec 2023

Catholics alarmed by EU equal rights law

  • St Peter's church: the bishops fear minority groups could use the law to stir resentment (Photo: flip.and.serena)

Atheists could attack galleries for showing religious art and witches could claim the right to use church halls under a draft EU equal rights law, the Roman Catholic church has warned.

The EU bill aims to curtail discrimination on grounds of religion, disability, age or sexual preference in social situations not covered by existing labour law, such as renting properties.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The directive could enter into force in 2011 if member states give unanimous approval in discussions planned for November by the Swedish EU presidency.

The criticism was put forward in recent days by the Roman Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales as part of a British government consultation procedure.

The bishops' group "commends" the EU effort to protect "the innate dignity of every person."

But it calls for the legal text to soften a clause against creating an "offensive environment" and to add an exemption to let religious organisations "function in accordance with [their] ethos."

"There is a risk that practical implementation may effectively turn the directive into an instrument of oppression against one or other group," the church paper, signed by bishops' conference general secretary Monsignor Andrew Summersgill, says.

"Homosexual groups ...may declare themselves offended by the presentation of the Catholic Church's moral teaching on homosexual acts; Catholics may declare themselves offended by a 'Gay Pride' march; an atheist may be offended by religious pictures in an art gallery."

"It is not clear whether [the bill] would apply to the activities of a Catholic priest, if, as recently occurred, he were to refuse to take a booking for a Church Hall from a group of witches," it adds.

The European Parliament passed the draft law in April by 363 votes against 226. Left-leaning and liberal MEPs championed the bill. But centre-right deputies said it will create too much red tape.

Polish truck protest at Ukraine border disrupts war supplies

Disruption at the Polish-Ukrainian border by disaffected Polish truckers is escalating, potentially affecting delivery of military aid to Ukraine. A Polish request to reintroduce permits for Ukrainian drivers has been described as "a shot to the head" during war.

Brussels denies having no 'concern' on Spain's amnesty law

The Spanish government remains secretive about its negotiations with pro-independence Catalans, but claims the EU Commission has "zero concerns" about their proposed amnesty law for Catalan separatists. The EU executive denies that.

Interview

Why populism appeals to less brainy EU voters

People who voted for Brexit tended to be less clever, research shows, in findings that also shed light on the appeal of EU populists, such as Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who won elections this week.

Analysis

How Wilders' Dutch extremism goes way beyond Islamophobia

Without losing sight of his pervasive Islamophobia, it is essential to note Geert Wilders' far-right extremism extends to other issues that could drastically alter the nature of Dutch politics — and end its often constructive role in advancing EU policies.

Opinion

Tusk's difficult in-tray on Poland's judicial independence

What is obvious is that PiS put in place a set of interlocking safeguards for itself which, even after their political defeat in Poland, will render it very difficult for the new government to restore the rule of law.

Opinion

Can Green Deal survive the 2024 European election?

Six months ahead of the EU elections, knocking an 'elitist' climate agenda is looking like a vote-winner to some. Saving the Green Deal and the EU's climate ambitions starts with listening to Europeans who are struggling to make ends meet.

Latest News

  1. How Moldova is trying to control tuberculosis
  2. Many problems to solve in Dubai — honesty about them is good
  3. Sudanese fleeing violence find no haven in Egypt or EU
  4. How should EU reform the humanitarian aid system?
  5. EU suggests visa-bans on Israeli settlers, following US example
  6. EU ministers prepare for all-night fiscal debate
  7. Spain's Nadia Calviño backed to be EIB's first female chief
  8. Is there hope for the EU and eurozone?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us