Adele Orioli, Director of Advocacy of the Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics, an Italian member of Humanists International, spoke at an event on the topic of liberal democracy, which took place at the European Parliament on 24 January. This event was hosted by Member of the European Parliament Othmar Karas under the framework of Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which provides a legal basis for an open, transparent, and regular dialogue between the EU institutions and churches, religious associations, and philosophical and non-confessional organizations.
The event focused on liberal democracy and how religious and non-religious actors have contributed to preserving and advancing liberal democracy. In her intervention, Orioli spoke about the instrumentalization of religion for political gain and stressed that this has detrimental effects on fundamental rights, such as the right to sexual and reproductive health, as well as the right to freedom of religion and belief (FoRB).
Orioli expressed concern over the frequent utilization of anti-blasphemy laws in Italy, as well as the lack of anti-homophobia laws. Further, she called for an institutional focus on fundamental rights and an inclusive approach to FoRB, in order to protect the rights of the most vulnerable.
As part of her speech, Orioli commented:
“I would like to conclude with the hope that philosophical non-confessional associations and religions and churches will cooperate, respecting the fundamental values of the European Union, so that future generations can enjoy full freedom of thought, belief, and individual choice. This is a condition and prerequisite for the creation and maintenance of a fair, peaceful, united, and prosperous European society”.
The newly appointed EU Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Frans van Daele, was also present at the event. Mr van Daele pointed to the interconnection between FoRB and human rights and ensured that he would meet with the different stakeholders to discuss future cooperation and shared goals.
A recording of the event is available here.
Photo by Guillaume Périgois on Unsplash