After the recent tension generated between the government and the Catholic Church during Argentina’s abortion debate, five members of the ruling Cambiemos coalition who voted in favor of the bill that would have legalized abortion presented a new bill to remove religious symbols from public buildings.
The initiative was proposed by Karina Banfi (UCR), with the support of Fernando Iglesias (PRO), and members of the Radical Civic Union Brenda Austin, Alejandro Echegaray, and Facundo Suárez Lastra.
According to El Parlamentario, the project calls for all “religious symbols and images installed in public spaces or buildings belonging to the National State” to be removed within 90 days of the enactment of the law, if it’s approved.
Separación Iglesia-Estado: cinco diputados de Cambiemos presentaron un proyecto de ley para remover símbolos religiosos de edificios y espacios públicos #IglesiaYEstadoAsuntoSeparado https://t.co/naZ4yltEKJ @KBanfi @alechegarayUCR @brendalisaustin @FerIglesias @fsuarezlastra
— Carolina Ramos (@Carito_Ramos) August 27, 2018
However, the bill specifies that if the religious images or symbols “form part of the architectural integrity and language” of the public building, then it will not be necessary to remove them.
When announcing the bill, the Cambiemos politicians who drafted the bill stated: “The purpose of the project is to guarantee the effective fulfillment of the principles of religious freedom and conscience, as well as to guarantee the secular nature of the public powers in the territory of the Argentine Republic.”
The new bill comes after an abortion debate in which the Church was actively engaged in Argentine politics, in spite of a supposed separation of church and state. Even as an international child sexual abuse scandal rocked the Catholic Church, clergy members in Argentina campaigned extensively against the abortion bill, directly asking politicians to vote against it and even organizing marches in protest.
“Religious symbology is not only not representative of the entire population, but it also doesn’t stay true to the supposed secular nature of the state,” the five politicians who proposed the bill emphasized.
“Argentina is a secular state, respectful of cultural and religious diversity as well as freedom of worship. This is the principle of equality and non-discrimination when it comes to the right to freedom of conscience,” the Cambiemos members added.
“With this project, we seek for the State to guarantee the equal treatment of beliefs to advance the construction of a public agenda not based on individual morals, but on the universal rights to which every Argentine citizen is entitled.”