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Janvier-mai 2022

  • May 2022 : #Metoo in the Church of Denmark

During summer and fall of 2021, a serious case of abuse of confessional decorum has been ongoing in the Church of Denmark. Several women reported receiving unwanted sexual attention from parish priest in Copenhagen, Flemming Pless. He has taken a leave of absence after complaints were filed to the bishop with several testimonies of both abusive behavior and breach of confidentiality. Almost a year after the first reports, the case is still undecided in May 2022. The newspaper BT has alleged that, because the handling of the complaints by the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs has taken a long time, it might be too late to report the cases to the police.

  • March 2022 : Refugees

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the refugee situation this created, the Danish Parliament passed a new law regarding Ukrainian refugees, ensuring they could become part of society from their first day in Denmark, regarding jobs, places to live, kindergartens and schools for the children, and even access to a number of zoos and play centres free of charge. This approach is in stark contrast to the Danish reaction to the Syrian refugee crisis, and has led to a discussion on inequality, discrimination, racism, and Islamophobia, though it is seen as a good thing that Ukrainians are welcomed and helped as much as possible. The different approaches are to some extent justified by religious difference, as some debaters argue that the Ukrainian Christians are easier to integrate into the Danish society than Muslims, though the government insists that the difference is geographic proximity. Nevertheless, the difference in approaches has led to a perceived difference based on religion especially among the (Muslim) migrant communities.

  • March 2022 : Publication of a list of physical and legal persons who are banned from making donations

The first name on the list of legal or physical persons, which is supposed to curb donations from undemocratic sources, was announced in March 2022. The listcontained just one name, a scholar from Kuwait, who had been in contact with a controversial mosque at Grimhøjvej in Aarhus. It is expected that more names will be added to the list soon.

  • February 2022 : Jehovah’s Witnesses and blood transfusions

The 1st of February at noon the Supreme Court of Denmark gave its ruling in a case from 2014, where a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses had received blood, because the doctors found it imperative in saving his life and the man himself was unconscious. The case is interesting because the Health Act states that a person can only refuse blood transfusions regarding ‘the present and specific health condition’ and must do so ‘on an informed basis’ after being informed by the healthcare professionals on the consequences. Since the man was unconscious and therefore unable to make this decision, his ‘blood card’ from JW that clearly stated that he under no circumstances wished to receive blood and the same position expressed by his relatives was overruled. The case has been tried before the High Court that found the hospital had violated the man’s right to religious freedom and self-determination, but the Supreme Court reversed this ruling and found that the hospital had acted correctly, since the man could not express his opinion in the specific matter. The man died a few weeks later without waking up so his opinion is forever unknown, but the case is principal in the sense of the individuals’ right to self-determination when discussing the right to die.

See : Case no. BS-49811/2020-HJR. It was legal to administer a blood transfusion to an unconscious patient who was a Jehovah’s Witness in a life-threatening situation.

  • January 2022 : Same-sex marriages and the role of the priests

In January, a discussion erupted on the role and liberty of the priests in the Danish state-church, the Folkekirke, as a new priest was to be installed as he had stated that he would not perform weddings of same-sex couples or divorcees. Since 2012 same-sex couples have the right to get married in the Folkekirke, but the individual priest has the right to refuse to perform the wedding on the grounds of conscience, in which case the local dean must find another priest for the approaching couple. This solution was widely supported in 2012, but in the current case parts of the left-wing and LGBT+ community was enraged that a ‘public servant’ as the priests of the Folkekirke essentially are, can refuse to serve parts of the population. This led to a discussion on the right to religious freedom of priests vs. the right to equality of homosexuals, but since there are other priests in the parish willing to wed approaching same-sex couples the debate died out after a couple of weeks.
In 2017, the Supreme Courts found no violation of freedom of religion in the legislation of the government on same sex marriage in the Folkekirke.

  • January 2022 : Debates on law on administration of minority and majority religious communities

Two newspapers (Kristeligt Dagblad and Berlingske) published several articles discussing the slow administration of cases concerning the Church of Denmark and other religious communities. The Ministry explained that this was due to the heavy workload during the COVID-19 pandemic, where the ministry issued and administered several detailed regulations related to religious life both within majority and minority religions. It was however also suggested that the law on religious communities outside the Danish National Church may be too bureaucratic to administer. In October 2021, at the inauguration of the legislative year for 2021-2022, the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs proposed one single piece of legislation, namely, a bill to postpone the mandatory revision date of the law on religious communities outside the Danish National Church, to the parliamentary year 2022/23.

See : L 50 Forslag til lov om ændring af lov om trossamfund uden for folkekirken [Bill to postpone the mandatory revision date of the law on religious communities outside the Danish National Church].

D 10 mai 2022    AKaroline Dige ALene Kühle ANiels Valdemar Vinding

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