Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
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(Forum 18) – In this personal commentary contributed to Forum 18 News Service, Dr. Reinhard Kohlhofer, an Austrian lawyer specialising in religious freedom, comments that the Serbian draft law on religion follows Austria ‘s hastily passed 1998 law in dividing religious communities into different categories with differing legal rights, thus institutionalising religious discrimination. The Austrian law is a bad example for Serbia to follow, Dr. Kohlhofer argues, having been severely criticised by international lawyers, and also being the subject of a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) case, with a decision expected in the next few months. In a 1993 case involving Greece , the ECHR ruled that “”freedom of thought, conscience and religion is one of the foundations of a democratic society” and that “the pluralism indissociable from a democratic society (…) depends on it.” Dr. Kohlhofer goes on to state that there is no justification for states to legally discriminate between or against religious communities, and that democracy demands nothing less than the elimination of all forms of legal discrimination.