Labour backs humanists’ concerns about Rwanda’s blasphemy law

21 February, 2024

The Labour frontbench this week has backed humanist peers’ efforts to reform the Rwanda Bill as it passed its Committee Stage in the Lords on Monday. All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group (APPHG) Treasurer and Humanists UK patron Lord Dubs put forward an amendment to the Bill to protect non-religious and minority religious asylum seekers from Rwanda’s blasphemy law, however it was not moved to a vote, despite attracting wide support including from the Labour frontbench.

The Bill declares that Rwanda is a ‘safe country’, in direct opposition to the ruling of the Supreme Court. This is despite the fact that Rwanda still has significant blasphemy laws. Individuals may suffer imprisonment or significant fines if they break these laws. This raises serious concerns about the safety and wellbeing of non-religious asylum seekers, as well as asylum seekers from other religious minorities. The amendment in question sought to make it clear that Rwanda cannot be considered a safe country for those who would be at risk due to their religion or lack of religion. It was moved by APPHG member and Humanists UK patron Lord Cashman, and was supported by several Labour peers, including the Labour Lords Home Affairs and Justice spokesperson Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede, Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws, Baroness Chakrabarti, and Lord Falconer of Thoroton, and Liberal Democrat peer and APPHG member Lord Scriven.

Humanists UK is also severely concerned about the wider human rights impact of the legislation. The bill will dis-apply certain sections of the Human Rights Act while also ignoring the protections granted by international law.

Many APPHG members raised concerns about the Bill during its Second Reading in the House of Lords last month.

Humanists UK Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Kathy Riddick said:

‘The Rwanda Bill is an affront to human rights, lacking in compassion, and is unworkable. We thank Lord Dubs and Lord Cashman for seeking to reform the Bill to protect the non-religious and minorities from Rwanda’s blasphemy laws and urge the Government to think again.’


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Kathy Riddick at or phone 020 3675 0959.

Read the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill

Read our initial response to the Rwanda Bill

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