The Czech Senate has passed a resolution slamming a proposed anti-discrimination Directive which could threaten the religious liberty of Christians.
Senators say the Czech domestic law is adequate and feel further discrimination law of this nature is best dealt with at a national level.
They also raised serious concerns about the workability of laws against ‘harassment’ operating outside the workplace.
The German and Polish Governments are also understood to prefer to deal with these matters using their own national remedies.
Earlier this year the three nations successfully persuaded the European Commission to drop sexual orientation and religion from the forthcoming Directive.
But the two controversial issues were put back into the plans following a campaign by MEPs, including one of Britain’s Liberal Democrat MEPs, Liz Lynne.
The proposed Directive aims to outlaw discrimination in the provision of goods and services and may also outlaw ‘harassment’.
The inclusion of religion and sexual orientation as protected grounds may leave Christians vulnerable to legal actions.
Similar laws are already operating in the UK and have caused difficulties for faith-based groups seeking to protect their religious ethos.
Several Roman Catholic adoption agencies will face the axe in 2009 unless they break with church teaching and are prepared to place children with same-sex couples.
A number of Christian social projects in the UK have been denied public funds because they are deemed to be too Christian. Some public bodies have used religious equality policies as justification for this treatment.
If the laws are passed at a European level control of these discrimination laws will pass from Westminster to Brussels, making it more difficult to seek changes in defence of religious liberty.
If outlawing ‘harassment’ is included in the Directive it could have serious implications for free speech.
There is great concern that the definition of ‘harassment’ could be so broad that moderate explanations of Christian beliefs on sexual conduct or other religions may fall foul.
The British Government has faced difficulty when attempting to introduce ‘harassment’ laws in this area, precisely because of concerns about how the law may hamper free speech.
When ‘harassment’ laws were introduced in Northern Ireland’s Sexual Orientation Regulations, a High Court judge removed them because, in part, of their potential impact on freedom of expression.