Thursday, September 17, 2009

EU Equal Treatment Directive will lead to Oppression and Censorship.

'The proposed EU Equal Treatment Directive has the potential to be used as an instrument of cultural genocide. Its provisions are likely to restrict Christian freedoms to the extent that, in certain cases, we would be silenced and prevented from providing goods or services to the public without violating our consciences, particularly if required to promote other religions or the practice of homosexuality.

The Directive ignores the necessity of providing protection in connection with conflicts inevitably arising out of:

Differences between those expressing religious tenets of one religion and the doctrines of another religion; or
Differences between those expressing religious tenets on sexual conduct and those professing a homosexual orientation.

The Directive purports to eliminate discrimination on the grounds of (amongst other things) “religion or belief” and “sexual orientation” from the provision of goods and services in every European Union country. That means that when providing a service (such as a hotel room) or selling goods (such as books) in the EU, businesses and their employees will have to provide them or risk being sued, irrespective of whether they find themselves facilitating sexual ethics contrary to their religious beliefs, or helping to promote another religion.

If a Christian says or does something whilst providing the goods or the service that someone finds offensive, they can be sued for an unlimited amount of compensation for “harassment”. This will cast a chilling shadow over free speech and freedom of expression for Christians, as it will for those with any views that challenge the prevailing ‘politically correct’ ideology . At the Christian Legal Centre, we have already seen numerous cases in the UK where similar equality laws and policies in the employment field have been used to silence Christians and to suspend or dismiss them from their public sector jobs, such as the homelessness officer who was dismissed for suggesting to a terminally ill client that she might consider putting her faith in God.

“Harassment,” as vaguely defined in the Directive, allows an individual to accuse someone of discrimination merely for expressing something the individual allegedly perceives as creating an “offensive environment”. For example, once someone decides to perceive an offer of prayers or words of comfort by a hospital chaplain (a Christian Minister who is employed in a UK hospital) based on his faith as offensive, that person can bring legal action against the chaplain and the hospital, even if the chaplain at the hospital intended no offence. To further chill fundamental freedoms, the burden of proof then shifts to the chaplain to disprove the allegation.

The Directive contains a number of proposals that will limit the freedom of expression of broadcasters and the press; that will limit academic freedom in education, particularly outside national educational systems; and that will undermine Christians’ right to freedom of association by compelling them to ensure that the principle of equal treatment is applied to all internal rules. For example, it could affect religious associations such as Student Christian Unions in internal membership rules and allow unbelievers the same access to membership as Christians. The Directive also breaches a number of the rules of fairness in law-making, such as the principle that whoever claims to have been wronged must prove his/her case rather than making the defendant prove the negative that they did not discriminate against the claimant.

There is no protection in the Directive for the freedom to follow one’s religious conscience and there are no balancing mechanisms to arbitrate between competing sets of rights, such as when a Muslim’s rights conflict with a Christian’s rights, or when the supposed rights of a homosexual to practise his or her lifestyle conflict with a Christian’s rights to refuse to facilitate that practice.

We believe that Member States should veto the Directive. It requires unanimity amongst all Member States. One country could say “No”. Please pray that it will not be passed and encourage a Christian campaign across Europe to “Say a Loud No to the EU Equal Treatment Directive” before it’s too late. It undermines Christian values, traditional family values and has the potential to be used as a tool to sue and persecute Christians for simply professing their faith in the course of everyday life when they provide a wide range of goods and services. It will cover social security, healthcare, education, housing, and access to the supply of goods and other services that are available to the public in both the public and private sector including public bodies.

The harassment provision should be removed completely, as it will affect freedom of speech and freedom to preach, and the Directive should include a general religious conscience exception as well as balancing mechanisms that prevent indirect religious discrimination. Education, the media and advertising, and Christian businesses should be excluded from the scope of the Directive. Likewise, the Directive should not cover discrimination on the grounds of “sexual orientation”, nor should it include “religion or belief”. The European Commission’s initial proposal was for a Directive that would prevent discrimination on the grounds of disability, which was a constructive suggestion. It is highly regrettable that the Commission changed their proposal to include the controversial grounds of “sexual orientation” and “religion or belief” and they should be removed.

The Directive is currently being amended by the Swedish Presidency, who are leading negotiations (with representatives from Member States) with a view to the final vote being taken in the next month or two (aiming for November 2009) in the Council of the European Union (Council of Ministers). If passed, national Governments would then be obliged to implement the provisions of the Directive within two years. This means that the Directive will be transposed into the laws of all European countries including the UK.

Please download our Information and Action Pack and use it to find out about the Directive so that you can write to your MP, MEPs and Equality Minister. Please encourage your friends in other European countries to do the same. The pack contains example letters and a list of Ministers from each EU country that might be responsible for equality matters. It is vital that Christians across the EU realise the seriousness of the situation and that Equality Ministers are informed that they can vote “no”.' -Andrea Minichiello Williams Christian Concern for our Nation

Labels: ,

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home