EU withdraws inclusive language guide that excluded Christmas

(Photo: Getty/iStock)

The EU has come under fire over a guide that suggested staff refer to the "holiday" season instead of Christmas in the name of inclusivity. 

The guide on "inclusive communication" was drawn up to "promote equality", but has now been withdrawn following complaints from the Vatican and Italian politicians. 

It advised changes to language around Christmas and the use of "Christian names" because they could suggest "intolerance or judgment, fuel stereotypes or single out one religious group".

"Not everyone celebrates the Christian holidays, and not all Christians celebrate them on the same dates. Be sensitive," the 32-page document stated.

Antonio Tajani, Forza Italia member and former president of the European parliament, was among those complaining about the document.

He tweeted, "Inclusion does not mean denying the Christian roots of [the EU]." 

The guide was launched by EU Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, at the end of October. 

Other flagged terms included "Mr, Mrs and Ms", which should only be used if specifically requested, The Times reports.

"In the absence of such information, Mx should be used as the default," it said.

It added, "Do not ask what pronoun a person 'prefers'. This assumes that gender identity is a personal preference — it is not. Ask how they describe themselves. 'What are your pronouns?'"

Announcing its withdrawal, Dalli said the guide needed more work.

"My initiative to draft guidelines as an internal document for communication by commission staff in their duties was intended to achieve an important aim: to illustrate the diversity of European culture and showcase the inclusive nature of the European commission towards all walks of life and beliefs of European citizens," she said.

"However, the version of the guidelines published does not adequately serve this purpose. It is not a mature document and does not meet all commission quality standards. The guidelines clearly need more work. I therefore withdraw the guidelines and will work further on this document."

The U-turn has been welcomed by former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, who tweeted: "It was an absurd and wrong document. A community is not afraid of its roots. And cultural identity is a value, not a threat."