Athens 2015 : EHF GA and conference

Athens 2015 : EHF GA and conference

Posted on the 22/05/15

On 15 and 16 May 2015, the EHF held its 2015 General Assembly and annual conference in Athens with more than 70 members’ representatives from 20 European countries. This event was jointly organised with our member the Humanist Union of Greece.

Strengthening and expanding the EHF network

These two days of enthusiastic and fruitful discussions were the opportunity to gather humanists from all over Europe and to welcome many new members: Polish Rationalist Association  (Poland), Center for Civil Courage  (Croatia) , Fundacion Ferrer Guardia (Spain), Fédération Européennes des Maisons de la Laïcité (Belgium) and  ATOM-Moscow Atheist Society (Russia).

Alongside regular GA’s business, EHF staff presented the 2014 annual report and the key activities of the year – campaigning for sexual and reproductive rights at the EU, the End Blasphemy Laws campaign, the Humanist East European Conference etc.

The EHF board also welcomed several new members from Sweden (Patrik Lindenfors), Germany (Michael Bauer), Scotland (Gary McLelland) and Luxembourg (Pol Wirtz).

Later in the day, EHF members gathered into 3 workshops to brainstorm about future EHF’s work and strategy; its communication, its message and its priorities for the next years.

GA minutes and reports coming soon.

Campaigning against “Blasphemy” laws

On Saturday 16 the EHF held its annual conference on “State-Church Relations and Blasphemy laws in Greece and in the rest of Europe” at the Cultural center with a strong focus on secularism and blasphemy laws in this country.

After a warm welcome from Nelly Papahela, Chairperson of Municipality of Athens City Council and a minute of silence in memoriam of HUG legal advisor Nikos Tzenos, Pierre-Arnaud Perrouty (EHF Exec. Dir.) presented the IHEU/EHF campaign “End Blasphemy Laws” and spoke about the EU double standards on blasphemy. He highlighted the detterent effect of EU blasphemy laws on freedom of expression and how they are used by some to legitimise harsher legislations elsewhere. Pavan Dhaliwal (EHF VP) explained briefly the situation of secularism in Britain and how the British Humanists could work closely with the Church of England on several issues. Greek blogger Philippos Loizos then gave a moving testimony of how he got convicted of “blasphemy” for mocking an Orthodox monk on Facebook. He detailed the harassment of his family and his personal fight against the prison sentence of 5 months he got.

Panayote Dimitras went on by promoting secularism in Greece and directly challenged goverment and opposition representatives on this issue with participants in the room. Pierre Galand concluded the conference highlighting how important it was to show support with Greece hit by the crisis and experiencing rising extremisms.

More information here.

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