The Scottish Justice Committee has proposed a new hate crime bill, which extends the current hate crime law covering race, to include other "protected characteristics" such as religion, sexual orientation, and transgender identity. Christian and secular groups have criticized the bill as too broad and subjective, potentially interfering with freedom of speech and worship.
Proposed Equality Bills 96 and 97 are ostensibly aimed at protecting an extensive group of people from discrimination and cover areas such as schools, public religious symbols, and services and employment. The Bills would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, age, religious belief, state of health, and other “protected characteristics.” However, many sectors of society, including educators, professionals, business owners, health workers, parents, faith-based groups, and believers are concerned about the laws' overreach.
On March 2nd, member of the Finnish Parliament Päivi Räsänen faced a police interrogation because of a tweet she posted in June 2019. The tweet was directed at the leadership of her church and questioned its official sponsorship of the LGBT event “Pride 2019”, accompanied by an image of a bible text.
Four talks by US Catholic speaker Jason Evert were cancelled due to pressure by campus LGBT groups and media reports referring to the well-known chastity speaker as "homophobic and anti-contraceptive." Presentations at two Dublin colleges, a Catholic conference called ‘Ignite 2020,’ and a talk at hotel were cancelled. According to reports, the University College Dublin LGBT Society called on the university authorities to stop Mr Evert from speaking, saying in a statement that his proposed visit to the university was “putting the safety of UCD’s LGBTQ+ community at risk” and his words could have “lasting and damaging effects on the mental wellbeing of LGHBTQ+ students.”
On December 18th, a judge in an employment tribunal ruled against Maya Forstater, a tax expert at the Centre for Global Development, who defended her right to say on social media that men cannot become ‘women’ by undergoing gender reassignment treatment. Employment Judge Taylor ruled that her belief that biological sex cannot be changed “did not have the protected characteristic of a philosophical belief.” She had tweeted that “men cannot change into women” as part of an argument about the government’s proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act. This was not deemed a "protected belief" under the Equality Act 2010.
A Christian pastor and school caretaker, who received abuse and threats for a June 2019 tweet about LGBTQ Pride has taken legal action against the school which he felt forced to leave.
A High Court judge ruled in favor of an exclusion zone around a school in Birmingham permanent, preventing parents from protesting outside the grounds against the "No Outsiders" primary school programme that teaches about LGBT relationships. Many parents and activists claim the programme contradicts their faith and is not "age appropriate." A temporary exclusion zone was first imposed by the courts in the summer after months of protests outside Anderton Park Primary School by mostly Muslim parents. Birmingham City Council claimed that the order was sought from the courts over safety concerns.
In October 2018, an elderly nun applied for a place in a retirement home in Vesoul, run by the city's Centre Communal d'Action Sociale (CCAS) in her home prefecture of Haute-Saone. After nine months on the waiting list, on July 2019, her request for housing was accepted, but with one condition: "With due respect for secularism, any ostentatious sign of belonging to a religious community cannot be accepted in order to ensure the serenity of all. Indeed, religion is a private affair and must remain so." The nun was told she could only wear a discreet cross. Having worn her religious habit all of her adult life, she refused to comply and was thus denied a place.
On November 4th, the Finnish State General Prosecutor issued a press release announcing the launch of a pre-trial investigation into the publication and distribution of the 2004 pamphlet "Mieheksi ja naiseksi hän heidät loi" (in English, “Male and female He created them”), authored by Päivi Räsänen, the Finnish politician investigated by the police for a tweet in June 2019 quoting the Bible on the issue of homosexuality. Although the pamphlet was printed 15 years ago, it will be included in the case against the Christian politician because it is still “available online.” Räsänen, who served in the past as Minister of the Interior of the government of Finland, risks being accused under Section 10 of the Criminal Code of Finland for “ethnic agitation,” a crime punishable with a fine or prison.
Victory in international court bolsters protections for Christians who face life-threatening persecution in home countries.
An Iranian Christian woman living in the state of Hesse in Germany fears for her life if she is forced to return to Iran, due to strict anti-conversion laws. The woman known as "Mahsa" fled Iran and traveled to Germany in 2015, after an attempted arrest by the religious police for her conversion to Christianity. A recent decision by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) denying her asylum limits Mahsa's options going forward.
A Christian doctor has lost an employment tribunal case, where he alleged that the Department of Work and Pensions breached his freedom of thought, conscience and religion pursuant to the Equality Act. Disability assessor, Dr. David Mackereth claimed discrimination on part of the Department of Work and Pensions for failing to accommodate his refusal to use pronouns which did not correspond with the biological sex of clients. In its decision, the panel stated that Dr. Mackereth's belief that "the Bible teaches us that God made humans male or female" was "incompatible with human dignity."
In March 2019, a Christian West End actress, Seyi Omooba, was removed from a leading role in a musical and dropped from her agency for a Facebook post about homosexuality citing the Bible over four years earlier. With representation by the Christian Legal Centre, she launched a legal challenge on September 30th against Leicester Curve Theatre and her agency, Global Artists, for breach of contract and anti-Christian discrimination.
The Helsinki Police Department announced it had opened pre-trial investigations into Päivi Räsänen, a Christian Democrat MP, for her criticism of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland's (ELCF) participation in the Helsinki LGBT Pride events in June. She posted a photograph of Romans 1:24-26 from the New Testament on Facebook and wrote "How does the foundation of the church’s teachings, the Bible, fit with elevating sin and shame as reasons for pride?"
Scottish local councils ask for more power to introduce buffer zones around abortion clinics where they see fit without having to appeal to the UK government for permission. This call follows "intimidating" anti-abortion protests outside Glasgow, Larbert and Edinburgh clinics. However, buffer zones such as those would restrict anyone from certain actions such as praying, calmly talking to women about abortion and make them a criminal offense.
Legal proceedings were launched in the High Court against Richmond Council to challenge a controversial Public Space Protection Order (“PSPO”) around an abortion clinic on Rosslyn Road that makes it a criminal offense to, among other things, pray or have conversations about abortion. The legal challenge has been brought by Justyna Pasek, who has personally supported women visiting the abortion clinic in Richmond for over five years, offering them alternatives to abortion.
Sarah Kuteh loses case at Court of Appeal.
Activists prevented a planned lecture by the gynecologist Michael Kiworr (Mannheim) on 8 May at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen.
Kristie Higgs, a Christian school worker will challenge a Gloucestershire school academy’s decision to dismiss her for gross misconduct. She was dismissed after she shared two posts on her Facebook page in October 2018 that raised concerns about Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) at another school in the same village - her child’s Church of England primary school. Higgs was told following an investigation and a six hour hearing that she would be dismissed without notice for gross misconduct.
Susan B. Anthony List, a U.S. pro-life organization tweeted a photograph of Mother Theresa and her words: "Abortion is profoundly anti-women. Three quarters of its victims are women: Half the babies and all the mothers.” This tweet was blocked by Twitter for violating the company's “health and pharmaceutical products and services policy.” The tweet was later restored, but Twitter's action prompted U.S. Senator Ted Cruz to question the company's executives about its policies.