Support us in campaigning for a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy for everyone, regardless of religion or belief.
With the general election fast approaching on 8 June, we’re asking candidates from all political parties to respond to our seven priorities for a fairer society, covering issues like protecting the Human Rights Act, ending religious discrimination in school admissions, and attending to urgent moral issues like abortion rights and the right to die.
Please, ask your candidate today what they’ll do to help ensure a fairer UK, where decisions are motivated by kindness and empathy and taken on the basis of evidence and reason.
Ask your candidate:
We’ve prepared a draft email you can send to your prospective parliamentary candidates about seven key issues that are important to humanists. Click on the question to find out more about each issue and why we need MPs to act.
1. Will you support fully inclusive school admissions, free from discrimination on the basis of religion? ▼
Many state-funded ‘faith’ schools in the UK prioritise children from certain religious backgrounds in their admission arrangements. This discriminates against children of the ‘wrong’ or no faith on the basis of beliefs they are too young to confidently hold for themselves, reduces the access of local parents to local schools, and leads to communities that are divided along lines of religion, race, and family income.
The UK Parliament only legislates for schools in England. Since 2007, new ‘faith’ schools in England have been prevented from discriminating in the selection of more than half of their pupils, but the Government now proposes to remove this so-called 50% cap and allow full religious selection. We call upon MPs to maintain this 50% cap, with a view to ultimately making schools fully open to all children, regardless of their parent’s religious beliefs.
2. Will you support ending compulsory daily worship in schools? ▼
The UK is the only country in the world that imposes compulsory Christian worship in state schools by law. The law is discriminatory, divisive, and increasingly inappropriate in a society that’s more diverse and more non-religious than it has ever been. Regardless of their religious and non-religious backgrounds, all pupils have a right to determine their own beliefs and not be proselytised to.
The UK Parliament only legislates for schools in England. We call upon MPs to remove the requirement for daily collective worship in state schools and replace it with a requirement for inclusive assemblies instead, that properly contributes to children’s personal development in an inclusive way. This is a policy that is already supported by many religious groups and all major education unions.
3. Will you support legal recognition of humanist weddings in England and Wales, as is the case in Scotland? ▼
Religious people across the UK have a choice between being married by a civil registrar or being married by a representative of their religion who shares their approach to life. In Scotland, humanist marriages were given legal recognition in 2005, overtaking Church of Scotland marriages in popularity by 2015.
In the rest of the UK, however, non-religious people have no option other than the civil registrar. Hundreds of people each year choose to have a personalised and meaningful wedding ceremony performed by a humanist celebrant. We call upon the next Government to recognise these weddings as legal marriages in England and Wales, as it has the power to do under the Marriage Act of 2013.
4. Will support keeping the Human Rights Act and remaining part of the European Convention on Human Rights? ▼
The Human Rights Act 1998, which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law, is the keystone of our human rights legislation, providing the rulebook for how our government can treat us. It contains important rights such as freedom of religion or belief, and freedom of speech and expression. As such it is a necessary part of our modern democratic society. The BHA calls upon MPs to oppose any attempt to repeal the Human Rights Act or withdrawn the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights.
5. Will you support the right to die for people who are terminally ill or incurably suffering? ▼
Humanists defend the right of everyone to live by their own personal values and see being able to die, with dignity, in the manner of one’s own choosing as a fundamental human right. The current law, which prevents terminally ill and incurably suffering people from being able to access a medically assisted death, is not only unjust but also causes immense suffering.
The UK Parliament only legislates for England and Wales in this area. We call upon MPs to support new legislation that would legalise assisted dying for those who are of sound mind and have made a clear decision, free from coercion, to end their lives in a manner of their choosing and who are not physically able to do so themselves.
6. Will you support the decriminalisation of abortion throughout the UK? ▼
Unlike most western democracies, the UK treats abortion as a criminal matter (all other medical procedures come under the civil law). The Offences Against the Person Act 1861 was passed 57 years before women even had the right to vote, and presumes that women who want an abortion are criminals. In England, Wales, and Scotland, the Abortion Act 1967 creates narrow situations where a woman can have an abortion, but only where two doctors give permission. No other medical procedure requires the same. This harms women by making it harder for them to access or delaying abortions, which are safer the earlier they are performed. In Northern Ireland, a near-total ban is in place, causing thousands of women to travel abroad to regulate their sexual health, or to attempt to terminate their own pregnancies without medical supervision.
The UK Parliament only legislates for England and Wales in this area. We’re calling upon MPs to bring the UK into the 21st century by taking abortion out of criminal law altogether by repealing provisions from the Offences Against the Person Act.
7. Will you support ending reserved seats for Church of England Bishops in the House of Lords? ▼
The UK is the only democratic sovereign state in the world to give seats in its legislature to religious representatives as of right. This is not just a harmless legacy of a medieval constitution but a present example of discrimination, religious privilege, and undemocratic politics. This cannot be justified in today’s society, which is both increasingly diverse and increasingly non-religious.
We call upon MPs to commit to reform of the House of Lords that would see the removal of the automatic right to sit for bishops from the Church of England – policy that is overwhelmingly supported by the British public.
You can encourage your candidates to answer these questions by using our form below.
Where do the parties stand?
For a quick overview of what the various parties will support in the next UK Parliament in relation to our issues, you can expand the image below. For further information, our detailed overview of how the parties fare on humanist issues is available to read here.
You can help us to promote human rights, free thinking, and freedom of choice at this election by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and sharing our graphic above. You can also sign up to our weekly newsletter to keep yourself up to date with our latest campaign news. Below, there is a form you can use to write to your prospective parliamentary candidates about our issues and to find our where they stand personally.
Ask you candidate to support our priorities
We need you to contact your candidates and ask them to support a fairer, more equal society. By entering your postcode in the form below, you can email your candidates about these issues. Please remember to personalise your responses.