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Bishops criticise “oppressive” EU law – The Daily Telegraph 3 August 2009

August 3rd, 2009

Sirs,

Your article “Bishops criticise “oppressive” EU law, 3 August 2009″ refers.

We hope the Bishops of England, Wales and Scotland will be reassured to learn that the proposed EU equal treatment rules will not impinge on the Church’s ability “to maintain its own teaching and activities with integrity”.

The European Commission’s proposal provides greater clarity for individuals, firms and authorities so any of the many people still facing discrimination can seek redress.  But it makes clear that this is about laying down minimum prescriptions, which the UK often already goes beyond in its own national legislation. The proposal is not about changing national rules or traditions linked to religion.

It will only become law if the Government approves it and even then, would allow the UK to continue to set its own rules on the status of religious organisations and on limiting access to faith-based activities to a certain religion.  For example, there could be no compulsion to provide double rooms to gay couples at a Catholic conference. Similarly on religious education, the proposal leaves it to the UK to decide if it wants to allow schools to select children on the basis of creed, as well as the content of the curriculum, including religious lessons or activities.

Yours etc

Dominic Brett
European Commission Representation, London

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