The British Humanist Association (BHA) has written to all UK MEPs, asking them to support a Declaration ‘on freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the right to education and the prohibition of discrimination in relation to religious symbols’ tabled by Sophie in’t Veld MEP.
In November the European Court of Human Rights delivered a clearly argued judgement against Italy for its compulsory display of the crucifix in all State school classrooms. The court ruled that this violated the Convention right of parents ‘to ensure [their children’s education] in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions’. It was clear from the judgement that this ruling was in conformity with Italy’s own constitution, which has been secular since 1985.
Some Italian politicians reacted with fury and a number of Italian MEPs have tabled a Declaration calling for ‘freedom to display religious symbols representative of a people’s culture and identity on public premises’.
Sophie in ’t Veld’s Declaration endorses the Court’s judgement in the name of separation of church and state, stating that ‘public institutions, at the national and EU level, should represent all citizens, regardless of belief, religion or philosophy, without discrimination’.
Naomi Phillips, BHA Public Affairs Officer, said, ‘We want to encourage all UK MEPs to support this important new Declaration. We believe that the European Parliament should make clear its attachment to the principle of the separation of church and state, freedom of thought and belief and should call on Member States to do the same.’
‘To have a secular constitution that neither privileges nor disadvantages individuals on the basis of their religious or non-religious beliefs is vitally important for all increasingly diverse European societies, and it is essential if we are all to have full enjoyment of the benefits of human rights, democracy and equality before the law.’
Read the BHA’s letter to MEPs.
For further comment or information, contact Naomi Phillips on 020 7079 3585.
The British Humanist Association is the national charity representing and supporting the interests of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. 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.