The British Humanist Association (BHA) is supporting a demonstration today against the political privileges of religious institutions in Europe, and particularly the undue influence of the Vatican in Italian politics and across the EU. The ‘London for a Secular Europe’ march will be held in solidarity at the same time as the annual ‘No Vat’ demonstration in Rome.
Hanne Stinson, BHA Chief Executive, said, “At a time when we see the increasing influence of religious institutions in the UK and across Europe, despite our increasingly diverse and secular societies, it is becoming evermore important to make the case for equality, rights, democracy and secular states. Tragic events of the last week in Italy highlight the Vatican’s true power and influence over the rule of law when it colluded with the Prime Minister to push through an ‘emergency’ law to prevent the withdrawal of feeding tubes for a patient who was catastrophically brain damaged in 1992 – against the wishes of the family, doctors and courts – and which was only narrowly prevented.
“This situation has brought Vatican bullying and influence into sharp focus. In recent months we’ve also seen the Vatican refusing to endorse a UN resolution calling for decriminalisation of homosexuality, a move widely condemned as lending credence to states which execute people for the ‘crime’ of being gay.
“The Vatican’s observer status at the UN and concordats with EU member states are not just an abstract, symbolic state of affairs, or a remnant of tradition. This failure to truly break the bind of church on state is having real, measurable, shocking impact across Europe and across the world. This is a timely, necessary demonstration of the demand for a secular Europe.”
For more comment or information, contact Hanne Stinson on 07764 947 249, 020 7079 3583.
The British Humanist Association represents and supports the non-religious. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state. humanism.org.uk
This is the first time London for a Secular Europe has been held in the UK and the protest is endorsed by the British Humanist Association, OutRage!, the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association and many others. In addition to undemocratic influence over areas such as abortion, gay rights, women’s rights and euthanasia, the organisers have highlighted article 16(c) of the Lisbon Treaty as a particular danger, committing the EU to “an open, transparent and regular dialogue with Churches and religious organisations”.