Saturday, January 06, 2007

Religious freedom news: new laws in Romania

The Church Times has reported (Jan 5 2007, page 5) that the Romanian Parliament has rushed through a law on religion that restricts religious freedom. Religions have to be registered in Romania, which creates problems for minority religions (of which Unitarianism is of course one). To be registered as a religion with the most rights requires more than 23,000 adult members. This (I think) would enable Unitarianism to be registered in this category, one of 18 officially recognised religions. But smaller groups will have much reduced rights.

One would hope that a condition of belonging to the EU would be religious freedom, in practice as well as in theory. But hey, we still have a blasphemy law and one state religion in this country.

I wonder if laws like this effect Unitarians in other countries around the world where their numbers would only be in the 10s or 100s.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I know, the Unitarian Association in Norway had quite a struggle being recognised.

8:42 pm  
Blogger Rich said...

I hate how the Human Rights Convention (which applies to Romania from 1st January this year) is so vague. Here is the full text of Article 9:

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

2. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

"Subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society" is vague, but I think most people would interpret that as something like "you can only stop someone practising their religion if they are threatening other people's human rights".

Hopefully someone (from inside the EU but outside Romania?) will challenge this new law on the grounds that it is contrary to Article 9. We can only hope.

9:30 pm  

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