Humanists UK celebrates preservation of Human Rights Act

9 July, 2024

Humanists UK has expressed delight and relief that under the new Government, the Human Rights Act will remain intact. This follows years of attempts to weaken or destroy protections the Act affords to citizens of the UK.

The Human Rights Act 1998 incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. It is a cornerstone in safeguarding fundamental freedoms and ensuring justice. Humanists UK has been a vocal defender of the Act due to its crucial role in protecting individual rights and freedoms.

In 2020 the UK Government launched an ‘Independent Human Rights Act Review’ and in 2022 followed that up by announcing a ‘Bill of Rights Bill’ – a plan to replace the Human Rights Act with something weaker. The Bill was popularly dubbed the ‘Rights Removal Bill’, with leading lawyers and human rights organisations warning it would undermine citizens’ fundamental rights and constitutional protections. In response, Humanists UK set up a coalition of over 250 charities, trades unions, and human rights organisations calling for protection of the Act. It is believed to be the largest-ever UK coalition of groups to campaign on human rights.

The Bill was subsequently scrapped in 2023, but with the caveat presented by Lord Chancellor the Rt Hon Alex Chalk KC MP who said that the Government had ‘taken action to address specific issues with the Human Rights Act and the European Convention including through the Illegal Migration Bill, the Victims and Prisoners Bill, and Overseas Operations Act 2021 and indeed the Northern Ireland Legacy Bill…’

And indeed the threat remained. In its manifesto, the Conservative Party said ‘If we are forced to choose between our security and the jurisdiction of a foreign court, including the [European Court of Human Rights], we will always choose our security’. In other words, the manifesto left the door open to pulling the UK out of the Court, which would mean having to leave the Convention too.

Labour, on the other hand, pledged in its manifesto that ‘Britain will unequivocally remain a member of the European Convention on Human Rights.’ And indications from the new Government in Westminster now are that the Human Rights Act is now safe and there will be no attempt to withdraw from the Convention.

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

‘The Human Rights Act is a vital safeguard for everyone in the UK, guaranteeing that our rights are protected and upheld. We are thrilled that the Government has recognised its significance and has committed to preserving it.

‘The protection of our common values of freedom of thought, conscience, religion, or belief are essential for a diverse and pluralistic society. The Human Rights Act not only defends individual liberties but also promotes tolerance and understanding among different communities.’


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at or phone 0203 675 0959.

Read more about our work on human rights and equality.

Read more about the coalition to protect human rights and judicial review.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 120,000 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.