GENEVA – On Friday, 10 March 2017, ADF International expressed its views regarding the current UN Report on the Freedom of Religion or Belief during the General Debate at the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council. The report failed to expose existing violations of the freedom of religion or belief, conscience, and expression in the US, Australia, and Europe.
“We see a massive curtailing of fundamental liberties in the West. While religious oppression may be fiercer in other regions of the world, we must not turn a blind eye to the developments in the US, Europe, or Australia. Many have been pushed out of the public square because they refuse to abandon deeply-held convictions. An aggressive secular liberal polity which claims to be objective and ideologically neutral, pushes people to choose between their religion and their profession,” said Rubén Navarro, Senior UN Counsel for ADF International.
“We have seen many cases of bakers, florists, photographers, or venue providers, who have simply exercised their right to religious freedom. They have refused facilitating or promoting such concepts as same-sex unions or other ideas that stand in stark contrast to their faith. International law guarantees equal protection to all people. It prohibits discrimination on race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion. The UN should not simply accept that citizens lose their jobs, be slandered, or even sent off to jail, because they refuse to violate their religious beliefs.”
Western countries curb free speech
‘Hate speech’ laws are another cause for concern. The report did not properly address these either, despite the growing tendency in the West to use legislation to curb free speech and silence debate. In his Oral Statement Navarro mentioned the example of the Australian Archbishop of Hobart. He was summoned by a state tribunal where he had to justify the distribution of a booklet on Catholic teaching on marriage at one of his diocese´s Catholic schools.
“We believe that a free and democratic society is based on a culture of debate and exchange of ideas. Prosecuting clerics or people of faith because they publicly speak about traditional religious doctrine on marriage, family and sexuality, opposes this democratic culture. It also violates their fundamental rights. We urge the UN and especially the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief to investigate and report on these issues in greater detail in the future.” said Rubén Navarro.
Find the Oral Statement here.
Find our White Paper on Religious Freedom here.
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