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.
Following plans first proposed in a government consultation last year, parents of children attending Welsh schools will no longer have a legal right to withdraw their children from compulsory relationships and sex education (RSE), as well as and religious education (RE) classes.
A new policy aimed at affirming parental authority in Spanish schools in Murcia has made national headlines in the country. The so-called 'Parental Pin' would oblige schools in the autonomous region of Murcia to seek the permission of parents for student participation in extra-curricular activities, including lessons and workshops on LGBT issues given by external speakers.
The European Parliament adopted a resolution which calls "for an end to violations against the freedom of Christians and other religious minorities to worship."
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.
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."
Northern Ireland Minister received correspondence from more than 700 medical practitioners calling for conscience protections which would allow Christians and conscientious objectors within the profession the statutory right to refuse to participate in abortions.
After surviving a 2014 car accident which resulted in tetraplegic paralysis and blindness, Italian disc Jockey Fabiano Antoniani (DJ Fabo) traveled to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland to end his life. The subsequent ruling of the Italian Constitutional Court over proceedings made against his accomplice now opens the door for the legalization of assisted suicide in Italy.
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?"
During the Court of Appeal hearing in the case of Felix Ngole, the University of Sheffield graduate student in social work who was dismissed from the program after he expressed his Christian views about marriage on Facebook, counsel for the university said no social worker should be allowed to express such views.
Dozens of its members stormed out of the "Extraordinary General Meeting" of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) concerning the Irish abortion bill on December 2nd. The members protested that their concerns and objections were not taken seriously and the ICGP “refused to accept members’ motions from the floor.” The spokesperson for the group of approximately 80 doctors, Dr Andrew O'Regan, told the media: "We feel disrespected and not listened to by our own college board."
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.
In November, several parents of children who were required to participate in a "Proud to be me" pride parade at the Heavers Farm Primary School in South East London threatened legal action. Despite numerous complaints from parents, they were informed that no opt-outs would be allowed. Parents, including Izoduwa Adhedo, reported that they were treated dismissively and victimized following their complaints. "I wasn't even trying to stop the Pride event. I just wanted my child to receive an education, rather than indoctrination," Adhedo said.
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.