Government defends protection of humanists in domestic law

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed the Government’s firm stance taken last night during debates on the Equality Bill, that people who hold humanist beliefs should continue to have equal status before the law and equal protection from discrimination as those with religious beliefs, or those who have a lack of belief.

Speaking to an amendment tabled by the Conservatives, which would take out the term ‘or philosophical’ from the meaning of ‘belief’ in equality legislation, Baroness Thornton, the minister on the Labour frontbench in the Lords for the Equality Bill, stated, ‘Removing protection for philosophical beliefs would mean that acceptable and long-recognised belief systems such as humanism would no longer be protected under law. I am sure that many here in this House would not wish for that – not only those who have humanist beliefs, but those who recognise and appreciate the right of others to be protected for holding that belief.’

Naomi Phillips, BHA Head of Public Affairs, said, ‘We are delighted that the Government, in answering an amendment to its Bill, also agreed that the removal of “or philosophical” would be a retrograde step for equality and human rights, and that it so strongly defended the continued protection of Humanism in domestic law.’

Notes

The BHA briefed Peers on the amendment ahead of the debate in the second day of Lords Committee on the Equality Bill.

Read more about our work on the Equality Bill.

For further comment or information, contact Naomi Phillips on 020 7079 3585 or 07540 257101.

Hansard transcript of the debate

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing and supporting the non-religious and campaigning for an end to religious privilege and discrimination based on religion or belief.