Religious discrimination must stop, Humanists UK tells the Equality and Human Rights Commission

2 March, 2023

Humanists UK has submitted a response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) Statutory Review, providing evidence of discrimination against the non-religious in areas of education, work, living standards, health, justice, participation in public life, and marriage law, as well as highlighting child abuse in illegal schools.

The EHRC is the national statutory body responsible for promoting and upholding equality and human rights ideals and laws across England, Wales, and Scotland. Every five years, it publishes a statutory review on how Britain is performing on equality and human rights across all nine protected characteristics, which include religion or belief. Its priorities set the tone for the equality sector as a whole. The review also provides insights on what should be done to address inequality over the next five year period.

In its response, Humanists UK has highlighted how faith-based ‘carve-outs’ in relationships and sex education can allow a vocal minority to stigmatise LGBT children, as well as reinforce gender bias and misogynistic stereotypes. It has  called for an end to the unacceptable yet permitted discriminatory recruitment practices of teachers in faith schools. It has also highlighted the unequal treatment of non-religious prisoners and patients in the provision of pastoral care. It also drew attention to the material deprivation and low well-being experienced by apostates leaving high control religions, while highlighting that these experiences are under-researched in the UK. Humanists UK also called for the impact of the use of religious ‘courts’ to be monitored to make sure the rights of women and children from or leaving religious communities are upheld.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented:

‘Religious discrimination continues to pervade many public institutions, creating discriminatory barriers that prevent the non-religious and religious minorities from enjoying equal treatment and equal outcomes across a variety of sectors. Discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief – as with any of the protected characteristics – is unacceptable in any society, but particularly unfathomable when you consider that the UK is among the least religious countries in the world.

‘We welcome the EHRC’s review and believe that its overarching aims overlap considerably with our work to create a fair and equal society for all.’

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.

Read our full submission to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Read more about our work on human rights and equality.

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.