“The report does include multiple references emphasizing protections for atheist, secular or humanist belief minorities.”
The vote took place after the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) suggested that the report treated the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the right to life as “second-class rights.”
COMECE general secretary Father Manuel Enrique Barrios Prieto said on May 3: “Any attempt to undermine the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the right to life through abusive interpretations that unduly restrict their legitimate scope or to subject them to newly created and non-consensual ‘so-called human rights,’ including abortion, constitute a serious violation of the international law that discredits the European Union before the international community and before millions of European citizens.”
He added that the text would not “be of help for millions of religious believers who are victims of persecution because of their faith, in particular vulnerable women and girls, as their situation will be obscured and rendered invisible by prioritizing other political interests.”
The adopted text expresses “deep concern about the misuse and instrumentalization of belief or religion to impose discriminatory policies, laws, including criminal laws, or restrictions that contradict and undermine the rights of LGBTIQ people, women and girls and restrict access to basic services, such as education and health, including sexual and reproductive rights, criminalize abortion in all cases, criminalize adultery or facilitate religious practices that violate human rights.”
Adina Portaru, ADF International’s senior counsel in Brussels, Belgium, argued that the text undermined the role of the EU’s religious freedom envoy, which became vacant in September 2021.