Humanists UK criticises discrimination against non-religious and religious minorities at United Nations Human Rights Council

9 March, 2018

In a statement at the 37th regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Humanists UK has criticised the discrimination and extrajudicial violence faced by the non-religious and religious minorities around the world as a result of anti-blasphemy and anti-apostasy laws.

Delivering Humanists UK’s intervention, Dr David Harvey drew attention to the devastating impact that anti-blasphemy laws have on the non-religious with as many as 85 countries across the globe discriminating against humanists and atheists according to the latest Freedom of Thought report.

The intervention highlighted the grave situations in Egypt, for instance, where lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would criminalise atheism with severe punishments for those convicted, and in Malaysia where a government minister called for apostates to be ‘hunted down’.

Further, according to Humanists UK:

‘this situation is made worse when, despite these dangers, member states continue to deny asylum to apostates and non-religious people facing persecution. The United Kingdom recently rejected a claim for asylum from Hamza bin Walayat, a Pakistani apostate, after wrongly stating that the 1951 Refugee Convention does not apply to persecution of the non-religious. This is despite the UK claiming it “remains concerned about the overall human rights record of Pakistan”. This is far too typical of the way in which the UK deals with non-religious asylum seekers.’

Humanists UK has been campaigning for a reversal of this decision, and last week delivered a petition of over 12,500 signatories on Hamza’s behalf to Downing Street.


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson on or 020 3675 0959.

Read Humanists UK’s full intervention:

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.