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Peers call on Government to conduct global review of non-religious persecution

In a debate following the publication earlier this week of the Bishop of Truro’s Independent Review for the Foreign Secretary of FCO Support for Persecuted Christians, peers in the House of Lords called on the UK Government to conduct a similar review into the persecution of the non-religious around the world. Humanists UK endorses these calls, and urges the Government to conduct another review into the persecution faced by the non-religious.

Lord Taverne, Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group (APPHG) identified in his speech that in many countries around the world apostasy and blasphemy are punishable by prison sentences and death. He called on the Government to implement the findings from the Review ‘as inclusively for the non-religious as for the religious’ to guarantee freedom of religion or belief for all. Lord Taverne added, ‘given the persecution faced by the non-religious around the world, I ask the Minister to commit to establish a similar review into the persecution faced by the non-religious’.

Lord Collins of Highbury, APPHG member, and Labour’s Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development, endorsed Lord Taverne’s call and said:

‘I too welcome the… excellent idea to conduct a review into the plight facing the non-religious. I hope the Minister will commit to conducting a similar review, given the scale of the plight faced by the non-religious and humanists around the world. It would go a long way towards guaranteeing the right to freedom of religion or belief for all. It would also ensure that the Government’s position as a global leader and champion of freedom of religion or belief around the world will be maintained.’

Humanists UK previously called for a review to cover other persecuted groups such as the non-religious.

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

‘We welcome the calls for the UK Government to now look in detail at the scale of persecution facing humanists and the non-religious around the globe as part of its ongoing and important work to champion freedom of religion or belief. 

‘As identified by the peers in the debate, as well as by Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, humanists and the non-religious are attacked more viciously and brutally than any other group, and therefore this work is essential to guarantee freedom of religion or belief for all.’


For more information contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at or 020 7324 3078 or 07393 344293.

Read our previous news item calling for the Christian persecution review to be widened to include the non-religious.

Read the transcript of the debate. 

Read more about our international campaigns.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 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.

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