Monday, 3 June 2013

BHA: International Humanists' Historic Meeting In Romania

Last week saw the first ever meeting of international humanists in Romania, held in the People’s Palace in Bucharest. The Romanian Humanist Association (RHA) hosted the event which included atheist blogger PZ Myers, British psychologist Richard Wiseman, BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson, and representatives of humanist associations across Eastern Europe. The conference was widely reported in the national media in Romania. The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) and the European Humanist Federation also held their General Assemblies across this four day event.

The conference was opened by RHA president Cezar Maroti, who explained the urgent need for secularism in Romania. He explained the current dire situation in the former communist country - the Romanian Orthodox Church is funded at the discretion of MPs with a colossal amount of taxpayers’ money; confessional religious education remains compulsory in all schools; the number of ‘out’ non-religious people remains very low; and sexual minorities are subject to high levels of social discrimination and derogatory attacks even by political leaders.

The global debate on opening up marriage to same-sex couples has already reached Romania where it faces particularly widespread misinformation and condemnation from religious and political leaders. Andrew Copson rebutted the arguments against marriage equality for same-sex couples in his presentation to the conference.

There were also presentations from our partners in eastern Europe covering areas such as education and minority rights.

At the IHEU General Assembly Andrew Copson was re-elected as the First Vice President and at EHF General Assembly BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal was elected as the Vice Chair.