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Humanists UK calls upon Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission to tackle religious segregation

Humanists UK has responded to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission’s (NIHRC) consultation on its strategic plan for the next three years, calling for a renewed focus on tackling religious segregation in the education sector and workplace, to work for the repeal of blasphemy laws, and to continue to campaign for safe and legal access to abortion.

Every three years the NIHRC publishes a strategic plan which sets out its overarching goals and priorities. As the national institution safeguarding human rights in Northern Ireland, its priorities set the tone for the human rights sector as a whole.

The NIHRC sees the most significant challenges in the next three years being creating a culture of respect for human rights across Northern Ireland, protecting human rights as the UK exits the European Union, and improving poverty, health, and wellbeing outcomes.

Humanists UK, which intervened in a Supreme Court case brought by the NIHRC into abortion access in Northern Ireland last year, called upon the Commission to continue to prioritise taking strategic litigation on abortion, as well as reforming the Religious Education curriculum to be fully inclusive of non-Christian and humanist beliefs, and an end to religious discrimination in the employment of all teaching staff in schools with a religious designation. We also called upon the NIHRC to support the repeal of Northern Ireland’s blasphemy laws.

Humanists UK’s Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘Northern Ireland is currently facing many challenging circumstances, including the continued absence of the Legislative Assembly and uncertainty over Brexit. Despite these difficulties, we believe that the NIHRC must continue to prioritise the decriminalisation of abortion, as well as tackling religious segregation in Northern Ireland that for too long has divided communities.

‘With the Republic of Ireland overwhelmingly supporting the removal of blasphemy restrictions and the right to legal abortion in referendums last year, we believe that the people of Northern Ireland deserve the same rights. Therefore, the NIHRC should consider both of these as priority issues.’

Notes:

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk or phone 020 7324 3078.

Read more about our campaign work on human rights: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/human-rights-and-equality/

Read our response to the NIHRC: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019-01-11-RTR-Northern-Ireland-Human-Rights-Commission-Strategic-Plan-2019-2022-Consultation.pdf

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

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