We don't take rights of Christians seriously enough, says Council of Europe


Following multiple stories of religious discrimination, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a report into injustice against Christians.

Moldovan Christian MP Valeriu Ghiletchi of an Equality and Non-discrimination committee submitted the report entitled 'Tackling intolerance and discrimination in Europe with a special focus on Christianity'.

The report uses case studies from across Europe, including the UK, to highlight the need to improve "the principle of reasonable accommodation" and ensure that Christians in particular are not penalised for their beliefs.

"Freedom of religion is a fundamental right and one of the foundations of a democratic and pluralist society," the report states.

"Intolerance and discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief affect minority religious groups in Europe as well as people belonging to majority religious groups. However, acts of hostility, violence and vandalism targeting Christians and their places of worship are insufficiently taken into consideration and condemned."

The report calls on the Council to "promote a culture of living together".

"Freedom of expression should be protected, as well as the peaceful exercise of freedom of assembly," it reads. "The principle of reasonable accommodation should be resorted to in order to respect people's religious beliefs, in particular in the workplace and in the field of education. By doing so, States should ensure that the rights of others are equally protected.

"It is crucial that States condemn and punish hate speech and any act of violence, including against Christians."

The Parliamentary Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of the report, with 67 in favour, two against and 15 abstentions.

Paul Moynan, CARE for Europe director, "wholeheartedly" welcomed this outcome. "This is a significant moment in as much as the suffering of Christians in respect to intolerance and discrimination has been officially acknowledged and recognised," he said in a statement.

"The report makes it clear people of faith should not be forced to act contrary to their beliefs and this is a necessary and vital step."

Moynan noted that there has been a rise in incidents where Christians have felt marginalised "because of unfair expectations placed on them by employers, law agencies and sadly, governments too".

"This vote provides a degree of hope that politicians across the 47 member states are starting to wake up to the need to do more to protect the freedom of Christians in regards to their religion," he said.

"CARE for Europe was privileged to work closely with Valeriu Ghiletchi and we wholeheartedly welcome the comprehensive backing it has now received."