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Success as Humanists UK returns to party conferences

Humanists UK made a buzz returning to the party conference scene this year. Staff attended the Conservative and Labour Party conferences, with an exhibition stand and fringe event at both. Humanists UK had great success in meeting over 100 MPs and peers, including many ministers, and greeting and recruiting members. Humanist and Secularist Liberal Democrats similarly had a stand and two fringe events at the Liberal Democrats’ Conference.

We regularly attend party conferences in order to meet with parliamentarians and other influential stakeholders to advocate for humanist issues and engage with our party-political members and supporters.

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson with Justice Secretary Dominic Raab MP. Credit: Ben Page

At the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, we held a ‘humanist wedding reception’, with bubbly and cake for all. The event was cohosted by Conservative Humanists, and bought together key speakers to urge for legal recognition of humanist marriages. Speakers included Crispin Blunt MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group; Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK; Hannah McKerchar, humanist celebrant; and James Baird, Chair of Conservative Humanists.

At the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, we held our regular packed-out breakfast fringe event, the Humanists UK Breakfast with a brilliant line-up of humanist speakers including Jeff Smith MP, Dame Angela Eagle MP, Rachel Hopkins MP, and Andrew Copson, Humanists UK Chief Executive. Julie Morgan MS, Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Social Services, also spoke about the valuable contribution of humanism to Wales. There the panel discussed topical humanist issues of the day, such as humanist marriages and inclusive assemblies.

At both conferences, our team on the exhibition stands were kept busy meeting with key parliamentary figures, and speaking with and recruiting members. Our petition at both stands collected hundreds of signatures calling on the UK Government to legally recognise humanist marriages in England and Wales.

Humanists UK Breakfast at Labour Conference

Humanist and Secularist Liberal Democrats (HSLD) held two fringe events at the Liberal Democrats conference, which was held online this year due to Covid. The first was joint with the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum on the Forgotten Human Right: Freedom of Religion or Belief. This explored how the fundamental right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, or belief protects everyone, whatever their beliefs, and identified that the right is increasingly attacked around the world. The event was chaired by Wera Hobhouse MP, the Equalities Spokesperson, and included Marguerite Ohan, from Christian Solidarity Worldwide; and Emma Wadsworth-Jones, from Humanists International.

The second event was titled Why Aren’t School Assemblies Inclusive?, which explored All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group Vice Chair Baroness Burt’s Education (Assemblies) Bill, which had its second reading last month. The event discussed how the Bill would make assemblies in schools with no religious character inclusive for all students, regardless of their religion or belief, and why this matters. Speakers included Baroness Burt, HSLD Co-President; Reverend Stephen Terry, Chair of the Accord Coalition, which campaigns to end religious discrimination in state schools; and Lee and Lizanne Harris, who had to go to court to assert their right not to have a religion they don’t hold imposed on their children.

As a charity, Humanists UK is not party political and works with politicians and others from all the major parties.

Notes:

For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

In 2021, Humanists UK is celebrating its 125th anniversary with a renewed focus on its history. The new website Humanist Heritage is a rich new web resource that uncovers the untold story of humanism in the UK – a story of people, groups, objects, places, movements, publications, and ideas.

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