Posted on the 05/06/19



At the occasion of the General Assembly of the European Humanist Federation, humanist organisations from all Europe issued a declaration to condemn the increasing opposition to key fundamental rights initiated or supported by different types of actors, ranging from far-right populist movements to Christian-right activists and churches’ representatives.

Pic source: Eric Ward on Flickr

One of the latest examples of such developments was the 13th international conference of the World Congress of Families (WCF) which gathered anti-LGBTI, anti-feminist and anti-abortion activists in Verona, Italy, last March. Despite wide contestation by democratic citizens, and especially by Italian and European secularist organisations, the Congress was funded by Verona’s local authority and had the backing of Italian far-right political parties and movements, including Matteo Salvini’s League.

When M. Salvini praises the protection of the “natural” family, i.e. “a man, a woman, a child”, and the “restoration of the natural order”, he projects the image of a society of hate, violence and disrespect that seeks to deprive women and LGBTI+ people of their fundamental rights. As humanists, we reject such a vision which threatens the very basic values that Europe is built upon.

, said Giulio Ercolessi, President of the European Humanist Federation.

Beyond the World Congress of Families, a growing number of ultra-conservative, anti-human-rights organisations have become very active both at EU and national level, trying to impose their ideologically-driven, draconian and undemocratic agendas onto the rest of society.

They are reinforced by the increasing presence of similar narratives stemming from far right parties and movements. Just a few months ago, the UN excluded references to sexual health and rights in a resolution about rape in conflict in order to accommodate the hardline abortion stance of the Trump administration.

A similar declaration was adopted by Humanists International.

The EHF’s General assembly was followed by an international conference organized by Siðmennt, the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association focusing on the main Ethical Questions of the 21st Century, specifically on environment, asylum, economic injustice and democracy. It was opened by Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, the President of the Republic of Iceland.

The weekend also hosted the general assemblies of two of EHF’s sister organizations, Humanists International and Young Humanists International. At the end of the weekend, the three organisations published a joint declaration concerning the urgency to acknowledge and act to halt climate change.





As Humanists, we are particularly worried to notice a rising opposition to key fundamental rights, especially in the sphere of family law and family policies, and increasing attempts to impose a reactionary project of society in various European countries. Against what we see as a surge of hate, xenophobia, homophobia and misogyny, we promote the building of an inclusive society and call all humanists to reclaim hijacked fundamental rights.

As Humanists, we promote the building of an inclusive society that allows everyone to live in dignity without fearing of discrimination on any ground. A society where women fully enjoy their rights and ability to choose over their life and body; a society where LGBTI+ people enjoy full equal rights and equal treatment, and everyone can express  their love and their gender identity openly; a society where all families are respected and recognised, in their diverse forms and compositions.

We call humanist organisations and progressive forces in Europe and worldwide to reclaim the protection of life and of families by promoting loud and clear their vision of society. We also urge them to actively remind their government and regional bodies that:

  1. Family is defined by the international community in an inclusive way so as to respect and protect its different forms and compositions.
  2. There is a paramount need to protect the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women, which requires access to safe and legal abortion as endorsed recently by the United Nations in a General Comment on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

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