The European Secularist Network welcomes the clear commitment of the European Parliament to the universality of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, following some of our demands.
Growing persecution of the non-religious
In its report adopted on 18 January, the Parliament stressed that “freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief is a fundamental right of every human being and applies to all persons equally”, and highlighted the “growing persecution” of non-religious, secular and humanist persons and “organisations, including incitement to violence against them, hatred and killings” in a number of countries.
Too often, religion is instrumentalised to “foment intolerance or undermine human rights, such as the rights of LGBTIQ persons and women´s rights, namely sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as children´s rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”
Furthermore, we welcome the denunciation of “attacks on countless individuals and civil society organisations for peacefully questioning, criticising or satirising religious beliefs”, and the reminder that “the expression of critical views on religion is a legitimate expression of freedom of thought or artistic creation”.
the eP should require the abolition of blasphemy laws
However, we deplore the fact that it does not include a requirement for Member States to abolish laws criminalising criticism of religions. Likewise, the EP’s resolution fails to explicitly call on the Union to act to require the abolition of laws criminalising “apostasy” and “blasphemy” in third countries.
Furthermore, the European Secularist Network endorses the recommendation to the EU Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU to “pay particular attention to the misuse of blasphemy laws and to the situation of non-believers at risk”.
secularism, a guarantee of human rights
The Network recalls the importance of secularism and the separation of religion and State, as well as secular spaces, for the full implementation of freedom of thought, conscience and religion and all other fundamental rights.