AEDH calls for respect for democracy and human rights throughout Europe

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The European Association for the Defence of Human Rights (AEDH) follows with great concern the violations of civil and political rights in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. It is a concern over the long-term process of promoting democratic reforms from 1989 to the present. Unfortunately, today these countries are faced with a new challenge for democracy and fundamental rights. In Romania but also across the region, increasing in numbers and well-organised groups erode the democratic foundations of the societies.     

After Hungary in 2011, and similar to the Croatian and Slovakian path, were power ceded to the pressure from conservative groups and religious organisations, a referendum project aims to redefine in the Romanian Constitution the family as a union between a man and a woman. A citizens’ initiative to amend the Constitution was presented at the beginning of May in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate will consider it in the beginning of June. The main parliamentary parties (the social-democrat, conservative, Hungarian and the representatives of the minorities, as well as a new party based on civil rights) voted in favour of this initiative.

Although the official discourse of the campaign on constitution amendment presents the initiative as democratic, its supporters rally on hate speech against LGBT and feminist groups, and against all people and entities that support civil and political rights, fundamental principles such as equality, the rule of law and the European values. Romania is already one of the countries in the EU with worst records on violence against LGBT people. Domestic violence, particularly against women, is also widespread, as is the unequal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. This referendum acts as a catalyst for radical religious and ultra conservative groups against minorities and women but also defying human rights and instilling mistrust of rationality and scientific knowledge, the foundation of modern and democratic society.

AEDH calls for careful attention to these developments in Romania and the region and demonstration of an effort at European level to limit the effects of ultraconservative religious militants and for the defence of the rights and values that constitute our European countries as democratic countries. AEDH regrets that Romanian political parties are vulnerable to the pressures of these extremist groups. The AEDH calls on the European institutions to question the political actors in Romania and the region regarding their democratic commitments. The AEDH considers that the European project is at crossroads and that we must reaffirm the commitment to its viability and foundations, to democracy, solidarity and human rights.