In response to EU Commissioner Helen Dalli’s, now withdrawn, guidelines for EU staff on styles of communication, the MHA supports the use of inclusive language, and agrees that no-one should automatically assume another’s religion, marital status or gender identity. We also agree that the EU should acknowledge all its residents – of whatever religion, background, or self-identification.
It is unfortunate that this document has been misrepresented by some as rules for the whole of the EU – with the Pope going as far as to draw parallels to dictatorships – rather than, as in reality, guidance for use in official EU Commission communications, to acknowledge the EU’s diversity.
Given that right-wing elements are increasingly seeking to alienate substantial segments of society from positive projects such as the EU, we favour sensitivity towards this reality and its real dangers. Therefore, while the guidelines point in the right direction, aiming to include rather than restrict, they could easily be perceived as heavy handed and restrictive, trying to impose cultural change from the top-down. We believe that more care should be taken in the future to avoid the risk of fuelling the right’s propaganda, with outcomes potentially far worse than the circumstances which such initiatives are trying to alleviate.