IT IS heartening to see that the Christian Democrats (KDH) are so willing to champion the right of people to reject aspects of their work that go against their beliefs.
However, to sign a treaty with the Vatican on the matter, as they have proposed, is an inappropriate way of making it happen. Perhaps it would be cynical to suggest that the measure is primarily about currying favour with the Catholic Church prior to Pope John Paul II's expected visit to Slovakia in the fall.
Pavol Hrušovský, parliamentary speaker and leader of the KDH, claims that the treaty will improve the lives of all Slovaks, although exactly how is a little unclear.
The KDH says that everyone has the right to live their lives as they believe fit - the "they" in this case being the KDH and not the people themselves. After all, this is the party that blocked an anti-discrimination clause in the labour code last month. Their argument at the time was that discrimination was safeguarded against by the constitution; specifically the following, clause 12(2):
"Fundamental rights shall be guaranteed in the Slovak Republic to every person regardless of sex, race, colour, language, faith, religion, political affiliation or conviction, national or social origin, nationality or ethnic origin, property, birth or any other status, and no person shall be denied their legal rights, discriminated against, or favoured on any of these grounds."
The end of the clause - the part that includes that no group shall be favoured - is just as important as the beginning. Surely this should apply even to the majority of Roman Catholics.
It can be argued that there may be a need for positive discrimination to allow disadvantaged groups the same access to jobs and education as the rest of the population, but in a country where 70 percent of the population claims to be Catholic, why is there a need to give this group special protection?
Legislation to protect people from having to act against their morals might be welcomed in Slovakia, but on a national level, without pandering to the wishes of the Vatican. History gives us too many examples of how favouritism towards a particular religion can destabilise a state, leading to intolerance, hatred, and violence.
28. Apr 2003 at 0:00