Join Donate

Humanists UK submits evidence on 20 years of the Human Rights Act

Twenty years after the Human Rights Act 1998 was passed by Parliament, Humanists UK has responded to a call for evidence by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which is conducting an inquiry into its impact, legacy, and considering how it could be strengthened to meet new challenges.

As a human rights charity, Humanists UK is firmly committed to the protection and promotion of human rights, as exemplified in documents such as the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), which is given affect in UK law by the Human Rights Act.

The Act made it possible for UK citizens to enforce their rights through the UK courts system, when previously they would have had to go to Europe. The Act has also meant that consideration and respect for human rights has become a fundamental principle of state-level decision making.

Looking to any possible reforms in the future, Humanists UK recommends not only that rights within the Act are retained, but that they are in fact strengthened by expanding the definition of ‘public authorities’ to include all organisations, including religious bodies, that are acting under a contract to carry out public functions. This would mean that all citizens receiving a public service, regardless of who is providing that service, are offered protection from discrimination.

Humanists UK Campaigns Officer Rachel Taggart-Ryan commented, ‘We firmly believe that affording citizens the rights contained within the Human Rights Act is of the utmost importance as this establishes beyond doubt that the state cannot discriminate against citizens in a range of circumstances, including on the basis of religion or belief.

‘As an organisation, the Act has allowed us to successfully challenge the legality of unfair and discriminatory practices that have impacted upon non-religious people in the fields of education, employment, marriage law, and sexual and reproductive rights. Therefore, we are opposed to any dilution of the current rights held under the Act.’


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Campaigns Officer Rachel Taggart-Ryan on or 07951 176 245.

Read Humanists UK’s submission:

Read more about Humanists UK’s campaign work on human rights:

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.

Search Humanists UK