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23 September 2013

Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe


World Congress of Families VI 
Madrid, Saturday 26th of May - 2-012, Palace of Congresses

By Dr Gudrun Kugler Panel Session: Hate Speech Laws and Anti-Discrimination To Marginalise Believers 

The Observatory monitors and catalogues instances in which Christians and Christianity are marginalised or discriminated against throughout Europe.  Currently, we feature over 700 individual case.  The Observatory gathers instances of discrimination against Christian from media sources and individuals who report to us.  It briefs international governmental organisations, such as the EU Fundamental Rights Agency and the Organisation for Seccurity and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).  A finding s are available to politicians, NGOs, journalists and intersted individuals through our website.

Social Intolerance varies from vandalism, to personal insults and attacks, to insensitivities in arts, removal attempts of religiou symbols and exclusion of Christian or Christian ideas.  

For example, '84% of the vandalism in France in 2010 was directed against Christian sites.' (French Ministre de l'interieru, 03.11.10), '48% of all clergy had suffered from some form of violence in the past 12 months in the UK in 2006' (CLERGYsafe Survey March 2006, National Church Watch).

More the 60% feel that the marginalisation of Christian is increasing in the government, in the workplace (61%), and in the public (68%).  71% perceive an increase in the marginalisation of Christian in the media (ComRes, UK, 2011).

With regard to discrimination, we have documented several areas of laws in Europe, which cause legal limitations for Christians.  The following area are the most striking:  


Civil servants who do no want to perform gay wedding ceremonies and conscientious objection in relation to abortion or abortifacients.  Problems are encountered by doctors, nurses, ,midwives, students for the medical professions or faithbased hospitals as well as pharmacists, with regard to their own involvement or an obligation to refer to someone else.


Overboarding hate speech legislation has caused difficulties for preachers, clergy, street evangelists, politicians, and intellectuals when speaking in public on specific Christian concepts.  


Parents' rights are at stake when homeschooling is forbidden, or made extremely difficult.  They are at stake when the contents of sexual education or the legal parameters of religious education contradict violently the parents' ethos.


The institutional dimension of freedom of religion is violated when anti-discrimination legislation becomes discriminatory for example with regard to hiring staff, renting out Church property, etc.


We also often note that discriminatory equality policies - overboarding non-discrimination legislation - violates private autonomy.  This is especially the case, when non-discrimination legislation is extended to the private sector, the provision of goods and services.  

We are very happy that the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE has taken up the issue in an unanimously adopted resolution in July 2011:

The parliamentary assembly recommends that a 'public debate on intolerance and discrimination against Christians be initiated and that the right of Christians to participate fully in public life be ensured'; that 'in view of discrimination and intolerance against Christians, that legislation in the participating States, including labour law, equality law, laws on freedom of expression and assembly, and laws related to religious communities and right of conscientious object be assessed', and 'encourages the media not to spread prejudices against Christians and to combat negative stereotyping.'

Interestingly, we often encounter difficulties from the same groups:

Feminism advocating reproductive rights:  Their goal is factual equality of men and women; provision of abortion and contraception without conscientious objection; pre-implantation diagnostics; sex without ties; sex exucation with the aim of: It's OK when it feels good.  

Genderists advocating LGBT rights:  Their goal is to get rid of all biological ties.  They want to achieve gay marriage with full legal and societal recognistion, including adoption; and they are unhappy with Church employer ethos rights.  

Secularists advocating atheism rights:  Their goal is to exclude religious viewpoints from public life; to remove religious clothing and symbols from the public and to stop public funding of religion.

Locally, where faiths, religions, and churches get in their way, they become a target, and Christians cannot agree to many of their claims.  They often do not hestitate to employ intolerant means in their work and to advocate for laws which discriminate against believers.  

It is a major aspect of the work of the Observatory to advocate equal rights for all, including Christians, by raising awareness of intolerance and discrimination against Christians in Europe.  It is important that the major human right institutions are aware of the problems and be ready to tackle them.  Politicians, intellectuals, and civil society are very much invited to take these problems up in their work.

Dr Gudrun Kluger

The Observatory's Report 2012 contains two parts: 

  1. Legal restrictions affecting christians in Europe and
  2. the most striking cases of intolerance and discrimination throughout Europe in the year 2012.


 The Observatory's Report on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in the Year 2012 was released on May, 21st, 2013, at an OSCE high level conference on Tolerance and Discrimination in Albania. Read the keynote speech by the Observatory's Director Gudrun Kugler here. 

The legal restrictions affecting Christians in Europe were researched especially in these areas: Limiting Conscientious Objection (we especially detected problems in: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, and Ireland); Curbing Free Speech by Hate Speech Legislation (France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom; Violations of Freedom of Assembly and Association (Austria, Germany, France, Netherlands, Spain), Discriminatory Equality Policies (EU, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom) and Limiting Parental Rights (Belgium, France, Germany, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden). 

The Report also contains a summary of and comment on the latest European Court of Human Rights Jurisprudence on Religious Freedom. 

View press release: in English, in German.

PS: Aminah bint Wahb was the mother of the Prophet Mohammed, if you are asked.

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