Atheist Ireland tells OSCE to defend secular education, free expression and abortion

Jane Donnelly of Atheist Ireland today told the annual OSCE human rights meeting that Ireland and other OSCE States must protect the rights to education, expression and abortion as part of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief. We also spoke yesterday on the need to tackle prejudice-motivated crimes and religious discrimination.

Here is our contribution to today’s session:

We recommend that Ireland stops breaching the human rights of atheists, secularists and members of minority faiths.

This includes in publicly funded schools, run by the Catholic Church, that breach the human rights to freedom of religion and belief, freedom from discrimination, equality before the law, and no effective remedy.

We make two recommendations to ensure that laws protect people from harm, and not ideas from criticism. You have rights, your beliefs do not.

One, Ireland should urgently hold a referendum to remove the offence of blasphemy. Islamic states at the UN have cited the Irish law when trying to spread global laws against defamation of religion.

Two, OSCE States should reject the use of the propaganda term ‘Islamophobia’. This word is used to conflate bigotry against People, which is bad, with criticism of Religion, which is necessary and good.

We make two recommendations to stop religious beliefs from diminishing the human rights of women and minorities.

One, OSCE States should protect the right of all pregnant women to health and bodily autonomy. In particular, Ireland should repeal the religiously-motivated 8th Amendment to the Constitution, and Poland should not introduce its barbaric anti-abortion Bill. Just five minutes from this building, Polish citizens are holding black protests against this breach of human rights.

Two, OSCE States should oppose Sharia courts and tribunals that discriminate against women, as well gay people and dissident Muslims. There should be one secular law for all. Religious states promote religion. Atheist states promote atheism. We want secular states, that promote neither

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