Protecting human rights of atheists and opposing blasphemy laws: my speech to the OSCE human rights meeting in Warsaw

by Michael Nugent on October 1, 2012

Statement made by Michael Nugent
Chairperson Atheist Ireland
To OSCE Human Rights Meeting
Warsaw, Poland, 1 October 2012

The OSCE has hosted events to specifically combat discrimination against Christians, Muslims and Jews. We request a similar event to specifically combat discrimination against atheists and agnostics.

For example, in Ireland, atheist parents are denied secular education for our children. We cannot become president or a judge in Ireland, because we have to swear a religious oath.

Eamon Gilmore, the current chair of the OSCE, is a member of the Irish Council of State. To take up this office he is obliged to swear an oath before a god that he personally does not believe in.

Our second recommendation is that the OSCE should strongly oppose all blasphemy laws.

The European Union and the Islamic States have recently insisted, in a joint statement, that we respect all religions and all prophets.

Respecting all prophets would mean respecting not only the prophets of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, but also respecting David Koresh at Waco, and David Icke who believes that George Bush is a space lizard.

This is clearly absurd. We can respect your right to believe, while not respecting the content of your beliefs. You have rights. Your beliefs do not. That is the essence of freedom of conscience.

I do not respect any belief about reality that is not based on sufficient evidence, and I do not respect any belief about morality that oppresses women, or gay people or other minorities.

Unsurprisingly, this recent EU statement has resulted in the Islamic States at the UN reintroducing their attempts to make blasphemy a crime internationally. The OSCE and all civilised states should oppose this attempt to move us backwards in terms of freedom of conscience.

If you would like to discuss how to combat this danger, please attend our side event at lunchtime in meeting room 3.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michael Nugent October 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm

The side event that we organised at the OSCE human rights meeting went very well. Former judge Catherine McGuiness was among the attendance, and she spoke about her surprise at the Irish blasphemy law being passed. We have videoed the event and we will get it up on YouTube later in the week. We have also made some very useful contacts for future lobbying.

2 Paradox October 5, 2012 at 6:31 pm

It’s not just in the EU and UK, unfortunately we also have this issue in the states as well, in many states, one cannot be governor unless they believe in the Christian god of the bible. I personally would prefer to have more atheists in office than religiously devout primarily because of me being a gay man, I see my human rights violated while also seeing the rights of the religious minority of certain pagan groups being violated as well.

There are pagan religions which call the LGBT community as “Two Spirited” or “Two Spirit People” and consider the union of marriage between these people of “Two Spirits” to be extremely sacred.

The religious majority oppress the minorities, and when suddenly they don’t get every little thing the majority wants (such as oppressing the minority), they claim they themselves are being oppressed and persecuted.

I’m ashamed of being American because of this to the point that I typically go around claiming to be Canadian so I’m not associated with such.

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