The Freedom Rights Project’s Dr. Aaron Rhodes recently spoke in the framework of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on a draft resolution concerning “The Protection of Minors Against Excesses of Sects“. The resolution, originally proposed by French MP Rudy Salles, intentionally avoids a definition of what may constitute a “sect” but claims to “condemn in particular the “excesses of sects”, namely acts and techniques which seek to place individuals in a state of psychological or physical submission”.
During his address, Rhodes strongly urged the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to reject this proposal as it would jeopardize rather than protect the rights of children and other members of minority religions:
“…if it were to pass, the resolution would itself constitute a threat to children, as well as adults, who are members of minority religions. It would stigmatize them and increase the chances of them being exposed to prejudice, discriminated against, and even subjected to violence.
The proposal raises the obvious question: Why focus just on so-called “sects”? What about the threats to children by main-line religious organizations?
The resolution would be a strike against religious toleration and thus against democracy and human rights, which mean nothing if religious groups are not treated equally.”
The resolution is due to be voted on by the Plenary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 10 April, 2014.
A transcript of Dr. Rhodes’ address is available to view at the European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom here