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Filtered by: Freedom of Expression

Anti-Discrimination Law Expanded in Switzerland

November 28, 2018, Switzerland

The Swiss Ständerat (Council of States) passed a law on November 28th adding discrimination based on sexual orientation to the existing criminal law prohibiting discrimination based on race, ethnicity, or religion. A broader version of the legislation, which included "gender identity" was passed by the Nationalrat (National Council) in October. Critics of the law noted that it could restrict freedom of expression and conscience, particularly for those who hold a traditional view of sexuality and marriage. Those who violate the law could face a prison sentence of up to three years.

Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Militant Equality Laws

Christian Group Ordered to Pay for Extra Security at Oxford Event

October 29, 2018, United Kingdom

Oxford students voted to ban Christian Concern from hosting its Wilberforce Academy residential conference at Lady Margaret Hall, calling the group a “real threat to the physical and mental safety of students.” The college, however, said it would permit the group to use its facilities provided that it paid for extra security. A college spokesperson said that Christian Concern's "opposition to abortion, Islam and LGBTQ+" rights would lead to protests so it needed to pay "additional security costs."

Contractual Freedom Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Expression Negative Stereotyping

Scottish Campaign calls Believers 'Bigots'

October 22, 2018, United Kingdom

An anti-hate crime campaign One Scotland, launched in September 2018 by the Scottish police and government, includes a poster directed toward religious believers which reads (in part), “Dear Bigots, you can’t spread your religious hatred here. End of sermon. Yours, Scotland.” Other posters in the campaign were directed toward 'transphobes' and 'homophobes.' Critics of the campaign have noted that it singles out religious believers and calls them bigots without any qualification, and it is based on a political ideology which discriminates against those who hold traditional views.

Equality Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Negative Stereotyping

Finnish Foreign Minister Faced No-Confidence Vote over Pro-Life Views

September 21, 2018, Finland

Members of the Finnish Parliament voted 100–60 against a motion of no confidence brought against Catholic Foreign Minister Timo Soini on September 21st. Four opposition parties, the Green League, Left Alliance, Social Democrats and Swedish People’s Party, brought a motion of no confidence over Soini's attendance at pro-life vigil while on an official trip to Canada in May.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Expression

Neuroscience Professor Investigated for Telling Students Men and Women are Biologically Different

September 17, 2018, Sweden

Germund Hesslow, a neurophysiology professor at Lund University, is under investigation for "anti-feminism" and "transphobia" for telling his students there are biological differences between men and women.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Expression

Pro-Life Charity Banned from Three UK Universities

September 14, 2018, United Kingdom

Student Unions in Manchester, Warwick, and Liverpool rejected the Life charity's application to appear at their Freshers' Fairs. The Warwick Students' Union rejected Life because its members "voted to adopt a pro-choice stance." Manchester said the Fair was an inappropriate platform, while Liverpool said the charity would not offer "impartial advice" to students. Life said its displays inform students that help is available if they get pregnant. The charity filed a complaint to the Office for Students (OfS) citing discrimination and restrictions on freedom of speech. It noted that the Chair of OfS had earlier promoted the protection of freedom of speech.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Expression

University Fired Priest after Rosary of Reparation for Glasglow Pride Parade

July 19, 2018, United Kingdom

A Catholic priest in Glasgow has been removed as a university chaplain after hosting a rosary of reparation for the city’s gay pride parade. The July 16 Rosary service was held in response to a gay pride event in the city on July 14. After complaints from LGBT groups, University principal Pamela Gillies announced that “Following due consultation, Father Mark Morris will not return to his chaplaincy role at the university in September,” the BBC reported.

Freedom of Expression Militant Equality Laws

Government Fired Doctor for View that Gender is Determined by Biology

July 8, 2018, United Kingdom

Dr David Mackereth was deemed "unfit" to work as an assessor at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over his refusal to use transgender patient's preferred pronouns because of his view that gender is defined by biology and that God made humans male and female. The Equality Act identifies those undergo or who propose to undergo gender reassignment as part of a protected class. Failure to use preferred pronouns is interpreted as unlawful discrimination.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Militant Equality Laws

Demand for Apology after President of National Assembly Mentions God

July 3, 2018, Slovenia

A left-wing member of the National Assembly, Franc Trček, demanded an apology from Matej Tonin, the President of the National Assembly, for concluding a speech with the words "Bog živi Slovenijo," which can roughly be translated to "God bless Slovenia." Trček argued that the words violated the constitution of Slovenia which requires a separation of church and state. Tonin responded that he had no intention of apologizing and that the constitution also protects freedom of speech.

Freedom of Expression

High Court Upholds "Buffer Zones" around Abortion Clinic; Appeal Filed

July 2, 2018, United Kingdom

The High Court of England and Wales upheld a “buffer zone” imposed by Ealing Council, west London, around a Marie Stopes abortion clinic. High Court Judge Mark Turner said that Ealing Council in London was justified in creating a 328-foot exclusion zone to prevent any pro-life gathering or speech, including prayer, within 100 meters of the clinic. Two women plan to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression

Coalition Withdraws CDU Candidate for Constitutional Court Due to Criticism of Sex Ed

June 29, 2018, Germany

Just days before the parliamentary vote on the election of a judge to the state constitutional court, the CDU, Greens, FDP and SSW withdrew their nomination of Hamburg lawyer and law professor Christian Winterhoff due to his conservative views on the sexual education of children.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion

Polish Supreme Court Rules against Printer

June 14, 2018, Poland

Poland's Supreme Court ruled against a printer who refused to create a roll-up banner for an LGBT business group because he did not want to "promote" the gay rights movement, citing his Catholic religious beliefs. The Court held that although there may be legally justifiable reasons to refuse services based on religious objections, in this case they did not apply.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Militant Equality Laws

Spain Fined UK Christian Television Broadcaster

June 14, 2018, Spain

The National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) fined Revelation TV, which is based in the UK but broadcasts in Spain, €6,000 after an individual complained to the state agency about comments made by an evangelical pastor during a morning program in September 2017. The CNMC deemed the pastor's comments "homophobic" when he expressed his opinion about transgender issues and whether Christians should move their children from schools when another student identifies as transgender.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Equality Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Expression

British MPs Demand "Buffer Zones" Outside Abortion Facilities

June 1, 2018, United Kingdom

One hundred sixty-one members of the British Parliament are demanding that Home Secretary Sajid Javid act on a proposal to introduce exclusion or "buffer zones” around abortion facilities, which would ban pro-life prayer, protest, and counseling of women conflicted about abortion.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Expression

Bulgarian Catholics and Protestants Unite to Oppose Proposed Religious Law

May 13, 2018, Bulgaria

Catholic and Protestant communities in Bulgaria have unified their efforts to prevent the adoption of two legislative proposals put before the parliamentary assembly in May 2018. The first, sponsored by the conservative GERB, the Bulgarian Socialist Party, and the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms, would permit state subsidies only for major religious denominations. The second, tabled by the United Patriots, would require greater oversight of religious activities and financing.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion

Google Halts Advertising on Irish Abortion Referendum

May 9, 2018, Ireland

On May 9th, Google announced that it would "pause" all advertising related to the upcoming Irish abortion referendum. The ban applies to all sites associated with the Google brand, including YouTube, and follows Facebook’s decision to ban any ads from advertisers outside of Ireland relating to the referendum. Opponents of the referendum, Pro-Life Campaign, Save the 8th, and the Iona Institute issued a joint statement condemning the tech giant’s decision as “shutting down a free and fair debate” and that it was "scandalous, and is an attempt to rig the referendum.”

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Expression

More Abortion Clinic "Buffer Zones" Considered by Councils

April 23, 2018, United Kingdom

After the Ealing local council voted to ban prayer vigils and protests outside an abortion clinic by issuing a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) earlier in April, at least eight councils in the United Kingdom considered implementing abortion clinic "buffer zones."

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Expression

UK Council Bans Pro-Life Vigils outside Abortion Clinic

April 10, 2018, United Kingdom

A London local council voted unanimously on April 10th to ban pro-life vigils outside a local abortion center that have been taking place without incident for 23 years. The Ealing council voted to use a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) to stop pro-life advocates from praying outside the Ealing Marie Stopes abortion clinic and offering help to women as they enter or exit the building. Pro-lifers must now stay 100 meters away from the abortion center. It will be the first "buffer zone" in the United Kingdom.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Expression

Canada Summer Jobs Funding Program Becomes Religious Freedom and Conscience Rights Controversy

March 20, 2018, Canada

The Canada Summer Jobs program funding application for 2018 requires that applicants sign a statement supporting, among other things, abortion and transgender rights in order to be eligible for funding. Hundreds of applicants, including Christian charities, pro-life groups, and churches have refused to sign the attestation because of the government's positions on moral issues.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Contractual Freedom Equality Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion Militant Equality Laws

Catholic Historian's Facebook Account Suspended Due to Post about Islam

March 19, 2018, Germany

Facebook suspended the account of Catholic historian Michael Hesemann for 30 days after he published a post commenting on the negative influence of Islam in the history of Europe and, specifically, in Germany.

Freedom of Expression