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BHA signs letter calling on Prime Minister to secure Human Rights Act

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is one of over 70 civil society organisations in the UK signing a letter calling on Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to secure and advance the Human Rights Act. The British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) has led in this call and all the signatories to the letter to David Cameron and Nick Clegg are united around a fundamental belief in the equal dignity of all people and the legal protection of basic human rights.

As well as the BHA, the signatories include Liberty, NCVO, and Age UK, along with international bodies such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The signatories have raised their concerns about the direction of the human rights debate in the UK. The signatories note that ‘The UK seeks to champion human rights abroad; now is the time to show leadership here at home, to re-connect the debate to the country's traditional values of fair play and our belief in basic human dignity and justice for everyone.’ On Human Rights Day the signatories have called on the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to ensure ‘the protection of universal human rights is safe in the UK.’ For them this means ‘securing and advancing our Human Rights Act.’

Andrew Copson, BHA Chief Executive, commented ‘We are delighted to be standing shoulder to shoulder with partners who share the same fundamental respect of human rights for all as the BHA. Not only are we supporting the British Institute of Human Rights in this call on the day of participation and inclusion but also the International Humanist and Ethical Union who have today launched their first report on discrimination and persecution of atheists, agnostics, humanists and freethinkers.

‘It is important to remember that freedom of religion also means freedom from religion and that the international community urgently needs to do more to protect those who are of no religion. On Human Rights Day we must seek to protect and extend human rights at home and abroad.’


For further comment or information contact BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson on 07534 248596 or at andrew@humanism.org.uk.

Read the IHEU report, Freedom of Thought 2012: A Global Report on Discrimination Against Humanists, Atheists and the Non-religious: http://www.iheu.org/files/IHEU%20Freedom%20of%20Thought%202012.pdf

Read the letter on the BIHR website: http://www.bihr.org.uk/documents/general/open-letter-from-civil-society-groups-on-human-rights-day-10-december-2012

The letter has been signed by the following organisations: Stephen Bowen, Director, British Institute of Human Rights; Gary Fitzgerald, Chief Executive, Action on Elder Abuse; Robert Taylor OBE, Chief Executive, Age Cymru; Duane Farrell, Director of Policy, Age NI; Brian Sloan, Interim Chief Executive, Age Scotland; Caroline Abrahams, Director of External Affairs, Age UK; Kate Allen, Director, Amnesty International UK; Geof Armstrong, Director, Arcadea; Maurice Wren, Director, Asylum Aid; Dann Kenningham, National Coordinator, ATD Fourth World; Davina James-Hanman, Director, AVA (Against Violence and Abuse); Abdul Khan, Chief Executive, BECON; Nik Barstow, Director of Engagement & Involvement, Black Health Agency; Andrew Copson, Chief Executive, British Humanist Association; Ann Chivers, Chief Executive, British Institute of Learning Disabilities; Brian Gormally, Director, CAJ (Committee on the Administration of Justice); Peter Newell, Coordinator, Children are unbeatable! Alliance and Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children; Paola Uccellari, Director, Children's Rights Alliance for England; Paula Hardy, Prif Weithredwraig / Chief Executive, Cymorth i Ferched Cymru / Welsh Women’s Aid; Monica Wilson, Chief Executive, Disability Action NI; Liz Sayce OBE, Chief Executive, Disability Rights UK; Catherine Casserley, Chair, Discrimination Law Association; Beryl Randall, Director, Employability Forum; Jo Glanville, Director, English PEN; Amanda Ariss, Chief Executive, Equality and Diversity Forum; Katie Pratt, Chief Executive, Equality South West; Holly Dustin, Director, EVAW (End Violence against Women Campaign); Keith Best, Chief Executive, Freedom from Torture; Deborah Gold, Chief Executive, Galop; Christl Hughes, Secretary, Gender Identity Research & Education Society (GIRES); Samantha Smethers, Executive Director, Grandparents Plus; Benjamin Ward, Deputy Director, Human Rights Watch; Tracey Lazard, Chief Executive, Inclusion London; Helen Shaw and Deborah Coles, Co-Directors, INQUEST; Yvonne MacNamara, Chief Executive, Irish Traveller Movement in Britain; Shauneen Lambe, Executive Director, Just for Kids Law; Ratna Lachman, Director, JUST West Yorkshire; Julie Bishop, Director, Law Centre Network; Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, President, Law Society of England and Wales; Paul Martin OBE, Chief Executive, Lesbian and Gay Foundation; Shami Chakrabarti, Director, Liberty; Eithne Rynne, Chief Executive, London Voluntary Services Council; Paul Farmer, Chief Executive, Mind; Deborah Jack, Chief Executive, NAT (National AIDS Trust); Annette Lawson, Chair, National Alliance of Women’s Organisations; Des Kelly OBE, Executive Director, National Care Forum; Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive, NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations); Patrick Yu, Executive Director, Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities; Kath Parson, Chief Executive, Older People's Advocacy Alliance (UK); Karen Chandler, Campaigns Co-ordinator, Pembrokeshire People First; Vaughan Jones, Chief Executive, Praxis Community Projects; Juliet Lyon, Director, Prison Reform Trust; Sarah Crowther, Director, REAP (Refugees in Effective and Active Partnerships); Shan Nicholas, Interim Chief Executive, Refugee Council; Simon Abel, Director, Rene Cassin; Elizabeth Henry, Chief Executive, ROTA (Race on the Agenda); Rob Berkeley, Director, Runnymede Trust; Billy Watson, Chief Executive, SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health); Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive, Scope; Durrah Mahmood, Trustee, Songololo Feet; Dr Dimitrina Petrova, Executive Director, The Equal Rights Trust; Robert Sutherland, Convenor, Scottish Legal Action Group; Alison Marshall, Director of Public Affairs, UNICEF UK; Phil Mulligan, Executive Director, United Nations Association – UK; Peter Facey, Director, Unlock Democracy; Joyce Kallevik, National Director, Wish; Rachel Halford, Director, Women in Prison; Nicki Norman, Deputy Chief Executive, Women’s Aid; Annie Campbell, Director, Women’s Aid Federation Northern Ireland; Vivienne Hays, Chief Executive, Women’s Resource Centre; Tom Doyle, Director, Yorkshire MESMAC; Unison.

Human Rights Day on 10 December each year marks the birth of our modern human rights standards – the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights being signed on 10 December 1948. The theme of this year’s anniversary is participation and inclusion. For more information, see the UN website: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Day2012/Pages/HRD2012.aspx

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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