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News – More threats to freedom of speech

March 2009

More threats to freedom of speech

 

A proposed directive going through the European Parliament aims to prohibit discrimination and harassment on the grounds of, among other things, sexual orientation and religion or belief.

     Previous experience of this kind of legislation suggests that Christianity could again suffer and be driven further from public and social involvement.

     In the UK, similar legislation has been widely interpreted as requiring the homosexual lifestyle to be promoted by public services. Adoption agencies, with public funding, which do not believe in placing children with same sex couples, have had to close. Foster parents have been removed from council registers because they are unwilling to promote homosexuality to their children. Only the threat of legal action has led to their reinstatement.

     The draft directive, which is going through various parliamentary stages, contains exemptions for religious schools and churches and other organisations based on religion or belief. However, it is unclear whether the exemption for religious organisations is aimed only at protecting existing laws that guarantee religious freedom, or whether it allows member states to introduce protections when implementing the directive. The definition of religious organisations protected by the exemptions is also unclear.

     Once again, Christian organisations could find themselves subject to legal action simply for upholding Biblical principles and practices. Free speech may be curtailed if religious groups are prevented from voicing and applying scriptural teaching on moral and lifestyle issues.

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