Helena Dalli, the European Commissioner for Equality, faced a substantial amount of criticism after a working document concerning communication guides for EU staff leaked to the press. People across the continent were utterly infuriated at the guidelines set by the document which, among other things encourage;
Workers to avoid using ‘Happy Christmas where not everybody is Christian; to avoid addressing an audience as ladies and gentlemen; to stop using Mrs when addressing women and; to avoid using solely Christian names when bringing examples of people living in the EU.
The outcry, with many stating that the document was muzzling their freedom of expression, led to Dalli withdrawing the document. She revealed that it is a work in progress and her office is taking note of concerns to update it.
Even Dalli’s colleague Margaritis Schinas, the European Commissioner for European Way of Life, took a jab at Dalli, saying; ‘Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I hope we can still call you ladies and gentlemen in the commission.’
The Pope too issued a response to the document, going as far as to compare these actions as those carried out by Nazi dictatorships and communists. He told journalists on his flight back to Rome from Athens that the document was ‘watered-down secularism’. The Vatican leader said that we should be careful not to be vehicles of ideological colonisation and that is why the Christmas issue is an anachronism.
However, the same was not said by Maltese MEP Cyrus Engerer who stood by Dalli’s document. He said that all of us need more information on how our language can be more inclusive. He said that the document doesn’t mean nobody can say Happy Christmas and asked whether the commission understands that ‘not everyone in Europe fits in and identifies as 1 of the 2 gender boxes in their minds.’
Isn’t equality part of the “European Way of Life” for @EU_Commission? Doesn’t Commission understand not everyone in #Europe fits in & identifies as 1 of the 2 gender boxes in their minds? Where has #UnityInDiversity gone? @TheProgressives @ILGAEurope @TGEUorg @LGBTIintergroup pic.twitter.com/prBGUPzfpR
— Cyrus Engerer (@engerer) December 2, 2021
What do you make of all this?