Freedom of worship, the Regional Administrative Court reaffirms the right of believers 

In San Giuliano Milanese the Regional Administrative Court agrees with the Protestants who presented an appeal, through the constitutionalist Valerio Onida. "A sentence that contributes to the de facto emptying of the regional law regarding the location of places of worship", comments Ilaria Valenzi, legal representative of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy

Foto @under_afiq da unsplash

Rome (NEV),  September 6, 2020 – A new stop to the Lombard regional law on places of worship. This time it comes from the Lombardy TAR (the Regional Administrative Court), in a sentence of  July 1st, published a few days ago, concerning the appeal presented by the evangelicals of San Giuliano Milanese, a municipality in the Milanese hinterland.
In 2019 the mayor of the city, 39 thousand inhabitants, 10 kilometers south-east of Milan, Marco Segala, with two decrees prohibited the use of two locations where  the cultural Muslim association Sabil, and the Punto Luce Association, of the Evangelical Congregation of San Giuliano, usually meet. For the mayor (among other things, a graduate in management engineering with a thesis on the enhancement of public real estate) the space of the protestant community would have been a building abuse. But the evangelicals decided to resort to the TAR, represented by the well-known constitutionalist Valerio Onida. And they won. The Lombardy court has in fact ruled protecting the right of these believers to freely profess their faith. For the TAR, “the administrative action of the local government  involving constitutional rights such as religious freedom (generally understood as an activity of promotion and teaching of worship) must be based, in a stringent way, on the principles of proportionality and adequacy”.
So a new “STOP” for a law that has aroused much controversy. Voted in 2015, it had already been partially dismantled by the Constitutional Court in February 2016 for the discrimination it carried out against entire groups of citizens by violating freedom of worship. In October 2018 it was the turn of the decision of the Lombardy Regional Administrative Court – which came following the appeal of the municipality of Sesto Calende against the construction of a mosque on its territory – to raise the question of the legitimacy of the law in force, despite the changes implemented in 2016. For that reason, finally, the Council was again consulted and expressed itself on 5 December last year.
“This law – comments the lawyer Ilaria Valenzi, legal referent of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) – has already had several negative sentences by the Constitutional Court. Now also the TAR  expresses itself with positive pronouncements with respect to the appeals, in this case by an evangelical community. The rationale is always that of resuming and enhancing constitutional rights: every space of worship is important not only for the territory but also and above all for the rights it represents. The focus shifts then from the value of the building space to the space of values. We therefore hope – concludes Valenzi – that sooner or later that rule will be abrogated or, in fact, as it is already happening, in practice, emptied”.