Extremist religious groups block report on sexual and reproductive rights in European Parliament

10 December, 2013

The Estrela Report on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights was blocked in the European Parliament today as a result of lobbying by extremist religious groups. The report, authored by Portuguese MEP Edite Estrela, recommends that people have access to sex education, contraception and safe abortion, but at each stage of the process socially conservative religious groups which oppose women’s rights have been campaigning against it. The British Humanist Association (BHA) is disappointed at the blocking of the report, and condemns the actions of the religious conservatives who have obstructed it.

As well as dealing with sex education, contraception and safe abortion, the report also takes gender-based violence (mostly against women) into account, and refers to the prevention and treatment of STIs, including HIV/AIDS. Socially conservative MEPs blocked the report at a plenary meeting on 22 October, after which it was sent back to the Women’s Rights Committee and amended. However, the report has been blocked again in today’s vote. After the vote today, Ms Estrela said that ‘hypocrisy has prevailed over the rights of women’. Throughout this process, MEPs have received more than 80,000 e-mails from extremist religious groups requesting them to reject the report, sometimes with personal threats.

Pavan Dhaliwal, BHA Head of Public Affairs and Vice-Chair of the European Humanist Federation (EHF) commented ‘This is a disgusting attempt by extremist religious groups to deny people their sexual and reproductive rights, and it is tragic that the rejection of the report has taken place on Human Rights Day. The report’s obstruction has been achieved as a result of frantic lobbying by socially conservative religious groups who oppose women’s rights and gay rights, as well as the right of everyone to access decent sex education and sexual health services. These extremist religious groups are trying to hold back decades of progress on sexual and reproductive rights, and represent only a tiny proportion of EU citizens. They should recognise that they are fighting a losing battle.’


For further comment or information contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at pavan@humanists.uk or on 0773 843 5059.

The European Humanist Federation: http://humanistfederation.eu/

Previous BHA news article – Religious lobby groups block report on sexual and reproductive rights in European Parliament:

Read about the BHA’s campaigning on Sexual and Reproductive Rights:

Read about the BHA’s campaigning on PSHE and Sex and Relationships Education: http://humanists.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/school-curriculum/pshe-and-sex-and-relationships-education/

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.