Monday, May 01, 2017

Europe's Parliamentarians Promote Rights of Parents and Children of Religious Minorities

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on April 27 adopted a Resolution (full text) on The Protection of the Rights of Parents and Children Belonging to Religious Minorities. The Resolution provides in part:
The landscape of religious communities in Europe is complex and evolving, with traditional beliefs spreading beyond their historical territory and new denominations emerging. Such an environment has the potential to render families belonging to religious minorities ostracised for their views and values in contexts where there is a dominant majority that holds conflicting views....
 5. The Assembly therefore calls on all member States of the Council of Europe to protect the rights of parents and children belonging to religious minorities by taking practical steps, legislative or otherwise, to:
5.1. affirm the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion for all individuals, including the right not to adhere to any religion, and protect the right of all not to be compelled to perform actions that go against their deeply held moral or religious beliefs, while ensuring that access to services lawfully provided is maintained and the right of others to be free from discrimination is protected;
5.2. promote reasonable accommodation of the deeply held moral or religious beliefs of all individuals in cases of serious conflict to enable citizens to freely manifest their religion or belief in private or in public, within the limits defined by legislation and provided that this is not detrimental to the rights of others;
5.3. repeal any law or rule which establishes a discriminatory distinction between religious minorities and majority beliefs;
5.4. ensure easy-to-implement options for children or parents to obtain exemptions from compulsory State religious education programmes that are in conflict with their deeply held moral or religious beliefs; such options may include non-confessional teaching of religion, providing information on a plurality of religions, and ethics programmes.
Background of the Resolution can be found in the Explanatory Memorandum filed as part of the report by the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination. [Thanks to Law & Religion UK for the lead.]