The Human Dimension Implementation Meeting of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe takes place in 2014 in Warsaw from 22 September to 3 October. The Observatory is present and intervenes on topics of tolerance and freedom of conscience and religion. Please read our interventions here.
A Christian registrar was dismissed for indicating she would not be willing to perform same-sex marriages. Finally, she was reinstated after a successful appeal in which it was ruled that her employer had failed to take a “balanced view” of her religious beliefs.
The Observatory welcomes the decision of the ECHR, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg which underlines the importance of the institutional dimension of freedom of religion. This judgment is a step towards reasonable accomodation of faith in contemporary society and will hopefully serve as a model in similar debates and decisions in the future. Read here a press release of the European Center for Law and Justice which acted as a party in the legal proceedings.
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) will publish its 2013 annual report on hate crimes on November 17, 2014. The report provides an overview of data collected on hate crimes, and of responses to hate crimes. The Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe submitted a 170-page report to support the OSCE/ODIHR publication on April 9th, 2014.
Read here key excerpts of the European Parliament resolution of 11 December 2013 on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2012 and the European Union's policy on the matter (2013/2152(INI)) on Freedom of Religion.
On 9 December 2013 Court of Appeals in Warsaw upheld a District Court judgment from 14th January refusing far-left politicians’ claims. They blamed the cross hanging in the plenary hall of Sejm (lower chamber of the Polish Parliament) to be an infringement of the freedom of religion and having an offensive character for them as for atheists. According to the Court, presence of religious symbols in public square e.g. in Sejm does not infringe freedom of religion neither may be considered as a personal offence.
The Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe reaffirmed in its Dec. 6 session in Kyiv the importance of Freedom of Religion and concluded to work towards a greater inclusion of faith and public policy.
The Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians welcomes the 2012 Hate Crime Report released by OSCE/ODIHR* on November 15, 2013. „This report creates awareness – and awareness is the first step towards a remedy,“ says the Observatory’s director Dr. Gudrun Kugler.
Based on the OSCE/ODIHR Hate Crime Report 2012 released in November 2013 German Media report about 414 hate crimes in Germany in 2012. The hate crimes range from violent attacks (18) to vandalism including spray-painting to theft. They are mainly directed against Catholic and Protestant churches, church buildings and cemeteries. One attack was directed against a Orthodox church.
On May 21 and 22, 2013, OSCE met in Tirana to discuss Tolerance and Non-Discrimination. The Observatory's director Dr. Gudrun Kugler was invited to give a keynote address in the session on combating intolerance and discrimination against Christians.
On April 24th, 2013, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a Resolution on the Protection of Religious Communities Against Violence (Resolution 1928 (2013)) in its 14th sitting. Reporteur was Italian Mr. Luca Volonte. Read below the highlights of the text.
Member of Parliament Marc Lefur (UMP, Côtes d’Armor) asked Minister of Interior Manuel Vals in a written inquiry on the numbers of acts of vandalism against Christian sites in France. In April of 2013, the minister replied saying that 667 attacks were recorded in 2012, of which 543 were directed against Christian sites.
An analysis of data from Pew Research studies finds that government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion are more than two times lower in countries in which Catholics are the majority population than in countries where Catholics are a minority.
The Italian Observatory “No Cristianofobia” has highlighted Radio Vatican’s report that 2012 has been the worst year for religious freedom in Spain with at least sixteen incidents of attacks against religious symbols or clergy though the article focuses on three. Of these the trial against the Bishop of Alcala de Henares Reig Pla who was accused, and absolved, of making homophobic statements, is exemplary of the increasing intolerance of freedom of conscience and thought to be found in Spain.
Upon the request of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians submitted 67 individually documented hate crimes and hate incidents on March 1st.
Read here the Observatory's analyses of the four cases on freedom of religion as they were decided by the European Court of Human Rights on January 15th, 2013: What happened, what was decided, what is good about the rulings, what is a disappointment, and what do Church leaders say about it.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Ms. Lilian Ladele had not been discriminated against when loosing her job for not being willing to officiate at a same-sex wedding. Two judges disagree and explain in a minority opinion that in her case wrongly "gay rights" trumped over fundamental human rights.
The data contained in the report “Religiously Aggravated Offending in Scotland 2011-2012” shows an increase of 26% in religious hate crimes. 876 charges with a religious aggravation in 2011-12 were analysed by the Justice Analytical Services. As per previous years attacks on Catholics constitute the largest identified group, with 509 such incidents accounting for 58.1% of all such offences. Anti-Catholic attacks are more prevalent than attacks on all other religious groups combined.
Christians events, prayer meetings or Church services as well as Christian manifestations which are sometimes interupted or attacked. The Observatory recorded such hate incidents in several European countries, for example in Austria, Germany and Spain.
The US Catholic bishops' conference has launched the initiative "First American Freedom" to protect freedom of religion. "Today, religious freedom is under threat throughout the United States—at all levels of government, federal, state, and local—and abroad," they say, and announce to work towards a protection of religious freedom through "prayer, education, and public action."