The BHA has commented on the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Triennial Report, released this week. The report entitled, How Fair is Britain? is the first report to be released by the Commission under their legal duty to report to Parliament on the state of the nation’s equality every three years. The report includes several recommendations on how to increase equality in the UK using 40 indicators which test the life chances of people from different backgrounds. The BHA made a submission to the Commission’s call for evidence for the report in January 2010 which highlighted a number of issues relating to equality for non-religious people.
Pepper Harow, BHA Campaigns Officer commented, ‘Although we welcome the report as an important document on many equality issues facing society today, we are disappointed to see that non-religious people are not fully recognised within it. As well as ignoring the intrinsic inequalities written into the education system with ‘faith schools’ admissions policies and collective worship, the report fails to recognise the existence of non-religious people as a group within the religion or belief spectrum. Instead the report focuses on ‘religiously motivated’ bullying and ‘religious inequality’ rather than seeking to cover both religious and non-religious issues.
‘This is partly a symptom of a lack of reliable data on religion or belief with many statistics ignoring those who identify as non-religious as they are seen as a non-category. It is also true that many such studies, including the 2001 Census, underestimate the number of non-religious people by asking a leading question that causes people to answer through a vague sense of affiliation to a belief system, rather than answer on the basis of current belief or practice.
‘That the report recognises the gap in knowledge regarding religion or belief underlines the need for reliable data which lies at the centre of our current Census campaign.’
For more information or comment please contact Pepper Harow on 02074624992
The British Humanist Association is the national charity representing and supporting the interests of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.