The executive branch of the European Union has withdrawn its “guidelines for inclusive communication,” which suggested that European Commission officials “update” the language they use by replacing the word “Christmas” with “holiday times" and avoiding “gendered” words.
The 32-page guide, advising those in the European Commission who speak about EU policies in public, has been pulled out about a month after it was issued due to an internal pushback, The Sunday Times reports.
The document advised avoiding references to Christmas and “Christian names” to avoid giving the impression of “intolerance or judgment, fuel stereotypes or single out one religious group.”
Because “not everyone celebrates the Christmas holidays,” the guidelines reportedly advised that officials “need to be sensitive to the fact that people have different religious traditions.”
Antonio Tajani, former president of the European Parliament and a member of the center-right political party Forza Italia party, is among those who objected to the guidelines.
“Inclusion does not mean denying the Christian roots of the #EU,” Tajani tweeted.
Ursula von der Leyen, the Commission’s president, had reportedly rejected the guidelines before the withdrawal, sources told The Telegraph.
EU Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, said in a statement that the guidebook “clearly needed more work.”
“My initiative to draft guidelines as an internal document for communication by commission staff in their duties was intended to achieve an important aim: to illustrate the diversity of European culture and showcase the inclusive nature of the European commission towards all walks of life and beliefs of European citizens,” she said, according to The Guardian. “However, the version of the guidelines published does not adequately serve this purpose.”
She added: “It is not a mature document and does not meet all Commission quality standards. I therefore withdraw the guidelines and will work further on this document.”
The guide also suggested that “the gender binary of male and female … Mr., Mrs. and Ms” should be dropped unless requested.
“In the absence of such information, Mx should be used as the default,” it stated. “… Avoid gender-specific pronouns for people whose gender is unknown ... so as not to exclude intersex persons and gender-queer people and not to make them invisible.”
It added: “Do not ask what pronoun a person ‘prefers’. This assumes that gender identity is a personal preference — it is not. Ask how they describe themselves. ‘What are your pronouns?’”
The guidance also encouraged officials to “[b]e careful about the use of gay and lesbian as nouns, which may be considered inappropriate. The term ‘homosexual’ can be considered offensive because it follows the medical model and is sometimes used by anti-gay activists.”
The document was criticized by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin in an interview with Vatican News.
“Unfortunately, the tendency is to homogenize everything, not knowing how to respect the rightful differences, which naturally must not become an adversarial issue or a source of discrimination, but must be integrated in order to build a full and integral humanity,” he said.
“And whoever goes against reality puts himself in serious danger. And then there is the cancelation of our roots, especially as regards Christian holidays, the Christian dimension of our Europe, too.”