When in Europe Watch What You Say – EU Attempts to Restrict Free Speech. Media Missing in Action

If all goes as planned, the 27 member states of the European Union will soon have a common hate crime legislation, which will turn disapproval for Islamic practices or homosexual lifestyles into crimes. Europe’s Christian churches are trying to stop the plan of the European political establishment, but it is unclear whether they will be successful. The media are silent on the topic.

Last April, the European Parliament approved the European Union’s Equal Treatment Directive. A directive is the name given to an EU law. As directives overrule national legislation, they need the approval of the European Council of Ministers before coming into effect. Next month, the Council will decide on the directive, which places the 27 EU member states under a common anti-discrimination legislation. The directive’s definition of discriminatory harassment is so broad that every objection to Muslim or homosexual practices will be considered unlawful.

On April 2, the European Parliament passed the “directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation,” 363 votes to 226. The directive applies to social protection and health care, social benefits, education and access to goods and services, including housing. American citizens and companies doing business in Europe are also required to adhere to it.

Originally intended to serve as an equal treatment directive for the disabled by prohibiting discrimination when accessing “goods and services, including housing,” activist European politicians and governments had the directive’s scope expanded to include discrimination on the basis of religion, age and sexual orientation.

Under the directive, harassment – defined as conduct “with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment” – is deemed a form of discrimination.

Harassment, as vaguely defined in the directive, allows an individual to accuse someone of discrimination merely for expressing something the individual allegedly perceives as creating an “offensive environment.” The definition is so broad that anyone who feels intimidated or offended can easily bring legal action against those whom he feels are responsible. Moreover, the directive shifts the burden of proof onto the accused, who has to prove the negative, i.e. demonstrate that he or she did not create an environment which intimidated or offended the complainant. If the accused fails to do so, he or she can be sentenced to paying an unlimited amount of compensation for “harassment.”

The European press has mostly remained silent on the topic so far, but Christian congregations are extremely worried. Last August, Mgr. Andrew Summersgill issued a statement on behalf of the Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland, rejecting the directive because it would require people and organizations to act against their beliefs. “Homosexual groups campaigning for same-sex marriage may declare themselves to be offended by the presentation of the Catholic Church’s moral teaching on marriage, an atheist may be offended by religious pictures in an art gallery, or a Muslim may be offended by any picture representing the human form,” said Mgr. Summersgill.

“When providing a service (such as a hotel room) or selling goods (such as books) in the EU, businesses and their employees will have to provide them or risk being sued, irrespective of whether they find themselves facilitating sexual ethics contrary to their religious beliefs or helping promote another religion,” say the legal experts of the British organizations Christian Concern for Our Nation (CCFON) and Christian Legal Centre. Organizers of a Christian conference, for instance, will be legally obliged to make double rooms available to homosexual and unmarried couples as well as to normally married couples.

The directive is currently being amended by Sweden, the president of the European Council in the second half of 2009, with a view to the final vote which will be taken by the Council next month. Activist politicians are attempting to extend discrimination and harassment in the directive to cover assumptions as well. Countries where the Catholic Church still has a large influence, such as Malta and Poland, however, are raising objections to these attempts. As the directive needs a unanimous approval by all 27 EU member states, it is not yet certain how far-reaching the final version of the directive is going to be.

Nevertheless, the almost complete silence of the European media and of public opinion on the important issues which are at stake, is worrying. Europe risks losing important fundamental freedoms, such as the freedom of speech and the freedom of opinion, but does not seem prepared to fight and preserve these freedoms. Perhaps the lack of interest of the inhabitants of Europe for legislation concocted at a supranational level explains the lack of interest in this matter.

The same phenomenon, a lack of interest on the part of European and also American public opinion, is apparent with regard to the semi-legal initiatives taken at the level of the United Nations. On October 2, the UN Human Rights Council approved a free speech resolution, co-sponsored by the US and Egypt, which criticizes “negative racial and religious stereotyping.” American diplomats said the decision to co-sponsor the resolution was part of America’s effort to “reach out to Muslim countries.” The resolution passed unanimously, with the support of all Western nations. Though the resolution has no immediate effect in law, it provides Muslim extremists with moral ammunition the next time they feel that central tenets of Islam are being treated disrespectfully through the creation of what they perceive to be an ‘offensive environment.’


Paul Belien is an Adjunct Fellow of the Hudson Institute. This article was first published at the Hudson NY website


@ Casper

What would the opposite of an "anti-discriminatory" law be?  A "pro-discriminatory" law? That would be equally misleading as a label.

Virtually every law and governmental regulation is going to be 'discriminatory', in the sense that it will have discriminatory effects on different people.  So-called "anti-discriminatory" laws certainly can be very 'discriminatory' in their effects.

So, the issue is NOT, whether some laws are "anti-dsicriminatory" or "pro-discriminatory".  The issue is whether they restrict freedom of SPEECH or OPINION, or not.      

I agree that the term "propaganda" lacks definition and therefore is not an appropriate subject for "banning" in legislation. If "propaganda" were to mean speech about homosexuality (or any other subject) then it should not be banned. However, if "propaganda" could mean other things, like pictures, actions, 'demonstrations' etc...,then they should clearly be subject to legislation/regulation by the appropriate body in a democratic political system (normally the central or 'local' legislative body). No civilised society can function without regulating its 'public space' and it certainly cannot tolerate a free-for-all (where everybody can just do in public what they like). But, it should tolerate 'speech' in the sense of freedom of opininon. That is what makes it civilised, in the sense of a 'free' society, and not whether every individual can act anyway and anywhere he or she wants to in public.

Lithuania's anti-gay laws kill freedom of speech

I agree with the view that "anti-discriminatory" laws often are threatening freedom of speech.

However, the opposite may also be the case. Lithuania has passed legislation to ban "propaganda of homosexual, bisexual or polygamous relations". This can mean almost everything, and it will effectively ban information about everything else than heterosexuality. It is reminescent of Section 28 which was introduced in Britain in the early 1980s and much older laws in many countries, which have since long been abolished.

The Lithuanian president vetoed the law, among other things because of its lack of definition of the issue, but the veto was overruled.

Lithuania is taking a step back to dark ages.


It is hypocrisy to support freedom for some, but suppression for others.

Blog: http://borgerligbums.wordpress.com

I disagree # 3

@ Huculinka

Does this really need to be repeated?

I did NOT question your opinion that islam or the Quraan reflect "hatred".  Much of islam shows certainly great intolerance to others, and if one wants to interpret literally 'old' texts (like the Quraan) with the eye of a 21st century Westerner, then hatred comes to mind.  However, I think that texts must be read in their specific historic context and not be taken too literally with the sensibilities and understandings of a 'normal' person of many centuries later.  

However, I DID question your assertion that "hatred is is a wel-defined concept in any culture". That is a very different issue, and you totally ignored the example I gave to illustrate how wrong that opinion of yours is. How can you make such a claim when many European laws define criticism of islam as hatred, while you declare islam to be hatred. There clearly is no clear understanding/agreement of hatred in contemporary European culture!

I disagree # 2

@ Huculinka

Apparently we agree on the substance, i.e. "complete freedom of belief and opinion".  However, I strongly disagree with your fanciful notion that "hatred is a well-defined concept in any culture". 

Hatred is always in the 'eye of the beholder', and one person's hatred can easily be another person's 'love'.  It is obvious that you hate 'islam' (or your perception of islam), and for good reasons.  No doubt, islamists will hate you for it.  Neither of these 'hates' is "well-defined".  What is "the common European understanding of hateful behavior"? Is it the way current West-European media and political 'elites' brand most criticism of islam and muslims as 'hate', and which they try to criminalise in ill-conceived 'laws'?  Or is it your claim that islam itself is hate, which is almost exactly the opposite of current 'European' laws?  It should be obvious that there is NO COMMON understanding of "hate".

The tragedy is that many young Europeans today, even those who are in opposition to current absurd immigration policies, are using the perverted 'language' of the multicul elites that dominate them.  Just like Pale Rider mistakenly believes that EU technocrats are acting like "egalitarians" (while directly making Europeans 'unequal' in terms of their most fundamental human rights, like free speech), so you too are believing in absurd EU technocratic claims that 'hate' can be a "well-defined" concept and thus can be a proper object/subject for criminal law.  It is truly tragic.

To marcfrans

Well, I do believe that such terms as "hatred" or "humane" or "kindness" or "polite" are commonly understood in the same way by people from the same cultural background. Actually, even the Quaraan defines the set of instructions for treating the non-muslims as hateful on occasions, so the concept seems mutually understood by both cultures. I just don't see why that itself doesn't stop the muslims from obeying the hateful book or at least doubt the divinity connected to it. But that is probably caused either by the "well, they deserve it" attitude or by mere ignorance of the contents of the book they claim to live their lives by.
Of course, all the social terms are rather vague and subject to subjectivity. But can't we agree that the urge to "cut off somebody's right hand and left foot" IS a little hateful? I don't know how about you, but I have only heard of one case of a person mutilating, murdering and eating another person out of shear love, and even that guy is now in prison, even though his victim agreed to it. :o)


What then will happen when those "practicing Islam" disapprove of homosexuality?

 Not much beyond what is happening already: Enforcing gender equality and tolerance among the muslims is now politically incorrect. Their communities are virtual no-zones for these "values" while ultimately benefitting from them. One could say it is a paradox come alive: Wash me but don't make me wet (german saying). Tolerating islamic customs as part of universal tolerance leads to islamic communities who can live out their intolerance towards homosexuals and people of other creeds.

So in order to fit this paradox into the double-think scheme of a goodly european elitist, phrases like "you should avoid offending them in public", or "you should change the compartment of the subway to avoid confrontation" surface in the media from time to time. Some of our more blunt politicians occupied with "integration" even suggest to "move out of the district, if you don‘t like it".

These no-zones have an event horizon beyond which the leftist-liberal official will not be able to look. They are black holes for our societies. What goes in, stays in. Being good black holes, they expand if there is matter input (welfare in this case). Expansion results directly from tolerating them in the first place. So homosexuals might better stay away from them, because nobody will be able to resolve the paradox and stand for them, if push comes to shove.

The killing of Marwa al-Sherbini in Dresden demonstrates the intricacy of the paradox: The perpetrator, a "russo-german" (himself born in Perm but obviously not "integrated" into Russian society) had to be fashioned into a xenophobic nazi by the media. How else could this case have been presented?

Effeminate Union # 8

@ Pale Rider

I realise that we are broadly on the same page, and that we are partially arguing about semantics, but clarity (of thought and expression) is important.

By providing a specific definition of "egalitarianism" you have provided a new element that can help in clarifying matters.  If we accept your definition of egalitarianism as "equal access to the rights and privileges of society", then it should be clear that we are really arguing about what these rights and privileges SHOULD BE. 

I contend that "equality before the law" and "freedom of speech" are - and should be - fundamental INDIVIDUAL "rights and privileges" in a civilised, free, and democratic society. By contrast, the specific EU policies you complain about are not about fundamental individual rights but, rather, they are about specific GROUP benefits and they introduce (ideological) 'compulsion' in areas that should not be in government's purview. These policies introduce government-imposed 'discrimination' supposedly to replace private discriminatory practices, and of course they do it in a selective way. As such, they undermine 'democracy' and freedom.

In short, in my view, a true "egalitarian" would accept that the law should treat everybody in the same way (equality before the law). That means, among other things, that MR X has an equal RIGHT to express his opinions as MR Y, so that selective suppression of (free) speech would be unacceptable.

Effeminate Union # 6

@ Pale Rider

1) I agree that the EU's "Equal Treatment Directive" is about "social engineering", but most things that governments do are about that. 

2) I disagree that it is about "egalitarianism", social or otherwise.   EU bureaucrats may think that they are egalitarians, but they are not.  They are simply substituting one set of 'discriminations' by another. For example, they may discriminate in favor of certain groups, say selected 'minorities' in hiring, but in doing so they are directly discriminating against other individuals by 'overruling' (even punishing) the hiring decisions of those other individuals.  As you put it so well yourself, they are really substituting traditional values and relations and replacing them by novelties.  However, that statement involves unnecessary judgements (not everything "traditional" is valuable, and not all "novelties" should be spurned).  So, I think it is even better to see it as actions that disrespect or violate individual freedom, i.e government enforcing its will on others in domains that should properly remain at the individual's discretion.   Perhaps, you are unwittingly 'accepting' the false claim by EU bureaucrats that they are guided by "egalitarianism", because you are employing their obfuscating terminology.  They are not guided by egalitarianism.  They are guided by their own opinions and misguided values.

3)  Of course both the EU Equal Treatment Directive and UN so-called 'free speech' resolutions have nothing to do with free speech.  They have everything to do with selective control of speech.  They are the opposite of what they claim to be.  They aim at making speech less free, or unfree.


@ Huculinca

Whether islam is "nothing but hatred" is an opinion. It is NOT an irrefutable fact.  So is "hatred", it reflects an opinion. What is hatred, and what is not, will depend on who is making that judgment.  The issues raised by this article do not concern whether hatred should be "ridiculed", or not.  The message is that 'hatred' (as an attitude, a feeling, or an opinion) should be tolerated.  In a free society, government (criminal law) should be concerned with specific ACTS and not with OPINIONS nor 'feelings'.

I disagree.

Hatred is a well-defined concept in any culture. And when you summarise the common European understanding of hateful behaviour, you coincidentally get the same pattern of behaviour as the one DEMANDED of a proper muslim by Quaraan when it comes to non-muslims. Thus Islam IS hatred. To the eyes of a secular European, anyway.
Also, I believe in a complete freedom of belief or opinion. Including the freedom to laugh at other people's delusion or hatred. You're free to disagree or laugh at my opinion, too. ;o)

The real issue: Muslims don't belong in Western countries

The commenters are missing the most important issue raised by this article by confining their discussion to talk of rights. Rights may be discussed with respect to those who are legitimately part of a political community, not with respect to those who are not.

Whether Muslims in the West are legitimately part of the political community is debatable. Their representatives demonstrate they are its enemies, not members. Their presence in the West in significant numbers is the result of policy errors at every level, whether based on utopian wishful thinking or treasonous political calculation. Those policy errors are reversible.

The significance of EU (and UN) declarations of the right to be a Muslim in the West are an attempt to use political power (and eventually brute force) to preclude the reversal of mistaken policies and thus make permanent, unassailable, and therefore "legitimate" the substantial numbers of Muslims in the West. It is like the laws the Franks imposed on the Gallo-Romans (through Gallo-Roman lawyers) to legitimize their invasion and make the Gallo-Romans second-class citizens (dhimmis) in their own land. It is the imposition of a legal right to be a Muslim in the West--and the outlawing of opposition to the presence of Muslims in the West--at a time when Westerners should be realizing, We have made a terrible mistake, thinking we could import Muslims without their asserting themselves and attempting to subjugate us, as they are obligated by their religion to do.

Such laws constitute a surrender to the enemy by traitors. Faithful people are duty-bound to speak the truth and resist the Vichy-Quisling Troisième Empire based in Brussels. Westerners have the right to reverse their mistakes and reduce the number of Muslims on their soil to appropriate numbers. That can be done more or less humanely and charitably, if started now. If we continue on our present course, the opportunity to do it humanely and charitably will pass.

Effeminate Union # 7

Marc Frans, you again made a lot of good points and I'd fully agree with your second point if only egalitarianism is what you say it is, i.e. equality before the law. I am obviously not opposed to this principle. However, when people, political parties and governments introduce or support absurd policies in the name of equal rights then I don't see what is so problematic about me describing their views as egalitarianism and opposing their ideology as such.

According to one definition, egalitarianism is "a social and political philosophy asserting the equality of all men, especially in their access to the rights and privileges of their society." The simple fact is I disagree with the notion that all have an absolute right to equal access to societal privileges. I'm not opposed to basic equal rights but there are areas to which so-called equality does not apply, and any attempt at doing so is unnatural and utopian if not downright arrogant.

Whether the latest EU farce is a power grab under the disguise of egalitarianism or egalitarianism an sich doesn't matter all that much to me, I think it comes down to the same in practice.

I think we're pretty much on the same page on this issue though. Perhaps our differences are more of a semantic nature, as has been the case in past exchanges.

Best regards.

I agree people have rights.

But I'd rather die than accept that religions and ideologies have their rights, too. People do have the right to be treated with dignity, but their hatred is to be ridiculed. And Islam is nothing but hatred.


I shall pray for that not to happen, however, the EU may very well suffer blows by the next UK general election, I do not think the Conservatives will have such a commanding lead, if enough votes are cast for UKIP, the party may wreck the Tories or compel them to agree to a referendum if they are to be supported by UKIP MPs.

Another frightening piece of information as far as totalitarianisms of all stripes are concerned:


No conflict of interest here

"every objection to Muslim or homosexual practices will be considered unlawful."

Unless it is muslims objecting to homosexual practices. Then it will just be ignored and pushed under the carpet. But when anyone from an indigenous European culture, especially a white Christian male sneezes in the direction of an activist..."Racist, bigot, islamophobe, Reactionary" will be yelled at them Cultural Revolution style and they'll be strung up in town squares, Bolshevik style.

This seems well meaning but how could it develop into something so wrong?

I am from a country with the just and equitable Common Law system. I abhore the Civil Law system as practiced on the Continent - but if Europeans want to live under that, fine. But please, people of the UK, withdraw from this legal framework you are being ntegrated into. UK Common Law cases often, even to this day, set precedence for all other Common Law countries (apart from the US) and I want no part of my Common Law taking any legal precedents from the EU's controlled Civil law. Especially with unjust things like this happening.

Defend Christendom. Defend Jewry. Oppose socialism in Europe.

Effeminate Union # 4

@ Pale Rider

It's always interesting to see how sensible people can judge the same observations differently. 

1) No, I do not see hate crime laws as an indication of "egalitarianism".  I see it as a power grab by governments (or forces controlling governments) that want to hang the label of "hate" on what they do not like - and they want even more the ability to punish real opponents - while ignoring other forms of 'hate' of which they approve.  Even EU technocrats are aware of "diferences" among people.  They would not confuse Israelis with Palestinians, nor American 'capitalists' with Chinese 'state capitalists', and they would NOT apply the same standards to these different people. 

Egalitarianism, in an economic sense, means trying to achieve an 'equal' income distribution or, perhaps, wealth distribution. In a legal/political sense it means that all citizens should be treated by the law in the same way. Neither of these concepts applies here. 

2) Anybody who claims that pornography raises an issue of "free speech" is not likely to be a genuine adherent of the principle of free speech, but rather someone who is demanding a right TO DO something that he likes to do (and that may be forbidden, or not, as the case may be, in his/her jurisdiction). Pornography is not speech.  It has to do with PHYSICAL things, like pictures, videos, behavior.  It is NOT about IDEAS or opinions.  Of course, whether SOMETHING, or some ACTION is "pornographic", or not, is often a matter of opinion, or 'in the eye of the beholder'.  But free speech is about speech and the ability to express opinions.  It is not about things nor actions.    Thus, one should be able to express an opinion on whether something is pornographic or not.  That does not mean that one should be able to engage in pornography.  That should be up to the proper democratic institutions (legislature) to decide upon.  


Effeminate Union # 5

Good points, but allow me to clarify what I meant.

I agree that this is a power grab because I look at these laws as being a manifestation of social engineering that is motivated by social rather than economic egalitarianism. I do not believe these laws exist merely to pester those who disagree with the Effeminate Union, but to transform society. So when I wrote that I think this is an expression of egalitarianism, I had 'social' egalitarianism in mind, i.e. the belief that some people are being oppressed and need the government's help to emancipate themselves. Hence they deconstruct traditional values and relations, replacing them with novelties like same-sex marriage that are supposedly 'equally' acceptable and natural, pointing out that homosexuals have been 'oppressed'.

Another example: penalizing companies that do not hire enough women or immigrants or do not have enough minorities on the board of directors, as if private corporations cause hatred or divisions in society, while these minorities have as much the right as anyone else to set up their own businesses. Those who believe in traditional gender roles or would rather not hire married women, men leading promiscuous lifestyles, or unqualified individuals who happen to be non-white, are considered to be discriminatory.

So to me this does not have much to do with freedom of speech anymore, since random people or companies can be prosecuted on charges of discrimination, essentially forcing them to change their behavior, since nobody can truly force someone to change his mind, unless they're being brainwashed in schools by State-funded educators who are required to proclaim the EU point of view. That is why I think this is about a lot more than just freedom of speech. I think this is an assault on tradition, individual liberty and natural order in general. After all, who says all discrimination is always a bad thing?

Best regards.

Effeminate Union # 2

@ Pale Rider

Your last sentence should read "...even the Soviet Union was not this absurdly intolerant".  The subject here has nothing to do with "egalitarianism", but everything to do with intolerance and OFFICIAL DISCRIMINATION on the basis of opinions.   

Effeminate Union # 3

But Marc Frans, don't you think these laws against 'hate crimes' are an expression of a deep-rooted sense of egalitarianism of EU technocrats? I'm not talking of the equality of the sexes here, I'm talking of the belief that there ought not be any form of differences or 'inequalities' between individuals whatsoever. The problem is not so much 'discrimination' and 'freedom of speech' to me, because even pornography is deemed to be 'freedom of speech' by its supporters these days. My beef is with the way authorities are taking down every single tradition, trying to erase natural institutions, as well as destroying freedom of association. So honestly I don't think we're merely dealing with people's right to hold different 'opinions' here.

The Effeminate Union

Hey, MWM, we're not reporting your butt for being slanderous, are we? You're correct about one thing though, the people at CCNC and many others for that matter should realize this is not as much about free speech as it is about freedom of religion as well as natural order and property rights. This new legislation is flat-out social engineering by crypto-totalitarianists under the disguise of progressivism, and a direct attack against liberty. I disagree with any form of incitement to hatred and violence but if my opposition to 'gay' and other degenerate lifestyles offend people I'm not going to shut my mouth. What's next? Jailing parents for teaching their children not to lead promiscuous lifestyles? Apparently corporations and private citizens cannot discriminate anyone based on religion or race but the government has the right to punish those who, because of their religious beliefs or personal convictions appear to 'discriminate' or incite others to hatred. And how is that not 'discrimination'? Militant gay right activists can freely spew hatred against those who disagree with their radical views because of their religious views or personal convictions, and again even that is somehow not discrimination or an incitement to hatred. Also, who on earth expects a Muslim organization to hire Hindus, or a Socialist movement to recruit Conservatives? Do they want to introduce quotas for men in women's clubs too? This is a bloody joke! Why not outlaw facts and figures, scientific research that is not funded by the State, and independent think thanks while we're at it? Lest anyone offend the Effeminate Union's worldview or be lead into apostasy. I bet even the USSR was not this egalitarian.

Christian Concern for our Nation

Oh yes, Christian Concern for our Nation and the Christian legal Centre - doughty defenders of free speech when it is about denigrating biblically incorrect lifestyles or deafening your neighbours with amplified rock sermons. A bit more equivocal about the whole thing when it's about repealing blasphemy laws.


Hypocritical idiots. 

If all goes as planned...

If all goes as planned, the 27 member states of the European Union will soon have a common hate crime legislation, which will turn disapproval for Islamic practices or homosexual lifestyles into crimes.

What then will happen when those "practicing Islam" disapprove of homosexuality?

Catholic Poland

I trust the Poles to remember their contributions to democracy and to exercise their national liberum veto in opposition to this directive.