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Council of Europe endorses “religious exemption” from human rights (May 2010)

This is far more than an attack on gay rights. By amending a resolution originally meant to prevent discrimination against gays, a “religious rights” pressure group has also managed to establish a general principle which significantly narrows the scope of human rights. Until now religious exemptions had been confined to employment, but now they have been extended to any legal requirements conflicting with religious teaching.

 This was accomplished by the skillful lobbying and delay tactics of the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) an affiliate of the American group founded by the evangelist Pat Robertson to counter the American Civil Liberties Union. The ECLJ claims that the exemptions are very broad in scope, but gives no independent legal opinion:

It must be noted that the scope of this general exemption is NOT limited to sexual orientation issues, or even to “non-discrimination” regulations, but is absolutely general and concerns any legal requirements conflicting with tenets of religious belief and doctrine. This paragraph confirms and extends the scope of Article 4 of Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation. This directive from 2000 adopted by the EU already recognized an exemption status to “churches and other public or private organisations the ethos of which is based on religion or belief,” but only in regard to discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation as regards employment and occupation. (ECLJ, 29 April 2010)

A long list of related documents with links is posted by the ECLJ at the end here and news stories from the Catholic press include:

“Gender-bending Yogyakarta Principles Brought to Council of Europe”
Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, 20 May 2010

“Religious Exemption Adopted in Council of Europe ‘Anti-discrimination’ Resolution”
LifeSiteNews, 20 May 2010

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