ITALY, December 14, 2012 (articolotre.com): [HPI notes: This article is a translation of the original Italian language article. The Hindu population of Italy is at least five times greater than the number mentioned here.]
A new milestone for religious freedom and equality between religions in Italy: The parliament has finally approved an agreement with the Italian Hindu Union (Sanatana Dharma Sangha) and the Italy Buddhist Union. These religions will now have the ability to open schools and have access to limited state funding. Article 8 of our Constitution provides for freedom for all religions that do not conflict with Italian law. And now, finally, not only the three great monotheistic religions will enjoy this right, but also Buddhism and Hinduism.
The adherents of these two religions can also take advantage of spiritual care; their religious marriage ceremonies will have the same legal status as civil unions and there will be better protection of their places of worship. It's a great step forward towards the integration of immigrants belonging to these faiths, who will finally feel respected and taken into account by the State. And above all, this event is a great affirmation of the concept of the secular state which should have an equilibrium of religious liberty for everyone, institutional separation between religions and equal representation in criminal matters. Consequently, all religions will be equal.
The Buddhists associated with the Italian Buddhist Union number a healthy 70 thousand. In addition there are 60 thousand faithful to a Japanese Buddhist movement. Hindus are approximately 5,000, of which half are Italian.
Following the yes vote of the Italian Senate (Senato della Repubblica) in September, Senator Stefano Ceccanti of the Democratic Party had said: "It's an extremely important act which demonstrates the capacity of the system for the expansion of religious freedom outlined by the Italian Constitution, the ability to go beyond the traditional Judeo-Christian context."
Matthew Mecacci, President of the Italian Parliamentary Intergroup for Tibet, Vice-President of the Nonviolent Radical Party and chairman of the General Committee On Democracy and Human Rights at OSCE commented that: "This is a historic achievement, which has been eagerly anticipated for more than 30 years by Buddhist Italians. It's an act of modernity, which expands religious pluralism in our country and that I hope will pave the way for the adoption of a law on religious freedom "