Human Rights

Human Rights are a complex issue which face society. The rights of individuals to free expression and freedom of faith or non-belief can sometimes come into conflict with the rights of other individuals or groups. This creates conflict, and that conflict is something secularism seeks to resolve. It is a core principle of secularism that the freedom of an individual to follow their faith (or lack thereof) should only be curtailed if that freedom poses a threat to society, the safety of others, or directly infringes others’ rights. Sadly, many in society do not follow this premise. In Scotland, every single school is religiously based. Even “non-denominational” schools have to adhere to the law on religious observance (RO), and have to teach that Scotland is a Christian society. In our view, the teaching of one religion as correct, and thus that others are wrong, is an infringement of the human rights of every child in that school.

 

 

There is some debate in society still, even after same sex marriage was legalised, on the rights of LGBT people in Scotland. Restrictions are in place for blood donation which have a presumption of the risk of disease as their basis, a demeaning view of homosexuality which remains in some parts of society. There is discussion in the media about whether individuals and businesses should be able to refuse services to gay couples on the basis of their sexuality; does their right to freedom of belief outweigh the rights of the couple to fair treatment?

 

 

In the health service, special services are provided by default for religious patients but not for non-believers, with vast sums of hard-pressed NHS funding being spent selectively on an ever-diminishing proportion of patients. Religious businesses remain exempt from equality legislation and able to discriminate against their employees, regardless of whether their beliefs or private lives have any impact on their ability to do their jobs. Some private individuals find themselves discriminated against for trying to exercise their freedom of faith, at the hands of corporate employers who seem singularly unable to decide what is a legitimate request and what is opportunism. These questions are not going away, but we, along with many others, are trying to find some answers.

 

 

 

If you have encountered a human rights issue that needs attention, you can contact us HERE, and let us know. We’ll get back with you as soon as possible.