Updated Tuesday with parliamentary secretary's tweet.

Proposed laws aimed at achieving equality and eradicating discrimination have serious implications on individual freedoms, the bishops of Malta and Gozo warned in a statement on Monday.

Bishops made a particular appeal to ensure the right of parents to choose their children’s schools was safeguarded. 

"If they choose a Church school or schools that embrace a particular ethos, they are to be assured that those appointed as heads of school or members of the senior leadership team are persons who protect and promote the schools’ ethos and values. These appointments should not be considered to be discriminatory," they said. 

"The principles, values and ethos of the school are not only passed on during religion lessons, but also through various subjects such as PCSD, history, literature, environmental studies, science, languages and other subjects, as well as during activities held at school and out of the school premises, together with co-curricular activities."

The bishops said educators must be chosen in such a way that they are suitably qualified and equipped to contribute to the growth of the school’s ethos throughout all those subjects and activities. Someone who is indifferent or completely hostile to the school’s ethos cannot accomplish this.

They said that the Church is obliged to join in the efforts in favour of equality and the eradication of all forms of discrimination.

The right to conscientious objection

The Equality Law should include the right to conscientious objection, the bishops said.

This would ensure that no one was forced to engage in, form part of, promote or participate in activities that go against their conscience, and the principles and values that they embrace.

"It should also be ensured that no structures which run parallel to the courts of the country are created as, whilst declaring that they are promoting equality, these structures will indirectly stifle the rights of others and effectively make it more difficult for persons to safeguard their fundamental rights.

The bishops said the principles they had explained could strengthen these Bills in favour of equality and against all discrimination.

"They are principles that embrace diversity and not uniformity. True equality respects every person, allows for and celebrates differences and does not eliminate them," they said. 

The statement was signed by Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Gozo bishop Anton Teuma and Auxiliary bishop of Malta Joseph Galea-Curmi.

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