The UK must do more to protect the rights of children and young people, particularly in tackling religious discrimination in schools, correcting the ongoing lack of good-quality sex and relationships education, and decriminalising abortion in Northern Ireland and across the UK, the British Humanist Association (BHA) has told a parliamentary committee.
The BHA drew particular attention to the UK Government’s recent proposals to allow new religious schools in England to religiously discriminate against prospective pupils in allocating all of their places, in response to a call for evidence on the UK’s record on children’s rights from the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR).
The current requirement that all religious schools keep at least half of their places open to local children irrespective of religion or belief is set to be scrapped, a move that the BHA says ‘ignores the evidence that the 50% cap on religious selection has boosted integration’, and ‘runs counter to the recommendations the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) made in a periodic report published this year.
Other issues raised by the BHA in their submission include:
BHA Education Campaigner Jay Harman said, ‘Both the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child have been clear in recent years that our education system and wider legislative framework do not currently protect the rights of children to the extent that they should. Religious discrimination continues to be rife in our schools, and in fact is set to be exacerbated by recent Government proposals, and we are evidently still not doing enough to equip young people with either the information or the confidence to be happy, healthy, and safe.
‘We welcome the opportunity to feed into the JCHR’s inquiry and will continue to encourage the Government to implement the recommendations made by the UNCRC in its latest periodic review.’
For further comment or information, please contact BHA Education Campaigner Jay Harman on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 324 3078.
Read the BHA’s submission to the Joint Committee on Human Rights’ inquiry here: http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/human-rights-committee/childrens-rights/written/40476.pdf
Read the BHA’s previous news item UN Children’s Rights Committee calls for end to compulsory worship in UK schools: https://humanism.org.uk/2016/06/09/un-childrens-rights-committee-calls-for-end-to-compulsory-worship-in-uk-schools/
Read the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/CRC_C_GBR_CO_5_24195_E.docx
The BHA is a member of the Children’s Rights Alliance of England, and was on the working group that drafted the education section of the Civil society report to the UN Committee that was produced as part of the periodic review.
Read our previous comment, Coalition of charities in England calls for statutory SRE in schools, reduction in religious selection and the inclusion of non-religious worldviews in RE, 1 July 2015: https://humanism.org.uk/2015/07/01/coalition-of-charities-in-england-calls-for-statutory-sre-in-schools-reduction-in-religious-selection-and-the-inclusion-of-non-religious-worldviews-in-re/
Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on:
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.