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BHA: MPs in call for new public holiday for 'Darwin Day'

MPs are being urged to give their support to an Early Day Motion tabled in the House of Commons to make Charles Darwin's birthday - 12th February - an annual public holiday.

The motion, tabled by Ashok Kumar MP, which has already received the support of ten other MPs says:

'That this House notes the extraordinary achievements of Charles Darwin; notes that 2009 marks both the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species; welcomes proposals for the creation of a Darwin Day in recognition of the ground-breaking work of the British scientist responsible for the theory of evolution by natural selection; and calls for Darwin's birthday, 12 February, to be designated a public holiday in honour of one of the fathers of modern science and one of Britain's greatest, if not the greatest, scientific minds.'

2009 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of 'On the Origin of Species' and campaigners are making use of these anniversaries to redouble their efforts to have the day marked officially. In 2003, over 40 distinguished academics, philosophers, scientists and writers called for a new public holiday, including philosopher Simon Blackburn, biologist Richard Dawkins, co-discoverer of DNA Francis Crick, author Philip Pullman and writer and broadcaster Claire Rayner. Members of the public are being urged to write to their own MP to request their support for the motion.

Andrew Copson, BHA Director of Education and Public Affairs said, 'Charles Darwin is one of the greatest and most influential thinkers who ever lived and one of Britain's greatest scientists. In the middle of February we could all do with an extra public holiday and recognition of this particular day would be a great way of celebrating Britain's great contribution to science, reason and freethought.'

The British Humanist Association supports the campaign to have Darwin Day made a public holiday and is running its own series of events in 2009 to celebrate Darwin's anniversary.

Notes

For further comment, contact Andrew Copson on andrew@humanism.org.uk or 020 7079 3584 or 07534 248596

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing the interests of the large and growing population of ethically concerned non-religious people living in the UK. It exists to support and represent such people, who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs. www.humanism.org.uk

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