Humanists UK: Pro-choice coalition challenges EHRC Commissioner over anti-choice bill

Lord Shinkwin. Photo credit: House of Lords.

Voice for Choice, the UK’s national coalition of pro-choice campaigning organisations – of which Humanists UK is a member – has lodged a formal complaint to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) over the conduct of its Commissioner, Lord Shinkwin, who was appointed by the Government Equalities Office earlier this year. The complaint focuses on two areas where Lord Shinkwin’s actions have contravened the EHRC’s codes of conduct and undermined its integrity. In the light of Voice for Choice’s complaint, Humanists UK believes that it is no longer appropriate for Lord Shinkwin to remain in his role as a Commissioner.

The first area of complaint is Lord Shinkwin’s introduction of the Abortion (Disability Equality) Bill in the House of Lords. If this bill becomes law, it would amend the 1967 Abortion Act to prevent women from accessing an abortion after 24 weeks when faced with a serious antenatal diagnosis. This would include cases where the pregnancy would result in a stillbirth or the baby would not survive long after birth. Women faced with this diagnosis would be forced to carry such a pregnancy to full term.

By denying women abortions in the case of fatal foetal abnormality, this bill would violate their human rights. The United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) has already established this precedent in two rulings on the denial of abortion on these grounds in the Republic of Ireland. The UNHRC found in both cases such a prohibition constitutes cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment. With this bill, Lord Shinkwin undermines the very rights that as a Commissioner he is entrusted to uphold.

Read more on Humanists UK web site…

British Humanist Association (BHA) becomes Humanists UK

The British Humanist Association (BHA), the national charity representing non-religious people in the United Kingdom and the Crown dependencies, has become Humanists UK. The new name, along with a revised new look and feel for the charity, will help the organisation to support more of the millions of non-religious people in the UK to be happier, more confident, and more fulfilled in the one life we have.

In an email to members today, Chief Executive Andrew Copson said:

A long, evidence-driven process with focus groups of non-religious people across the UK and research involving over 4,000 of our supporters has helped us arrive at the best possible vehicle for our movement for a fairer world. Humanists UK represents not just a new logo, but a totally new, friendly look that captures the essence of humanism: open, inclusive, energetic, and modern, with people and their stories placed first and foremost in all our broad and varied work.

In our proud 120-year history, we’ve regenerated like this more than once. From a collection of 19th century ethical societies, we became the Ethical Union and then, in the 1960s, the British Humanist Association. The ideas and values we represent have an even prouder and still longer history than this: the thinking and doing of humanists stretches back to the European Enlightenment and has its antecedents in the ancient cultures of Europe, China, India, and many other places. Today this way of thinking is the basic worldview of millions of people in the UK and globally.

The Ethical Union and then the British Humanist Association have helped change Britain, and Humanists UK will continue to be a growing movement at the forefront of social change. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, we ran soup kitchens and housing centres while fighting for the right to air non-religious views in public, chipping away at a censorious Victorian culture. In the mid-twentieth century, we were at the centre of movements to reform the law on homosexuality, abortion, and the death penalty. And since then, we have fought to challenge creationism in our classrooms, guarantee protections for minorities in the workplace, oppose harmful blasphemy laws, and so much else besides.

Over that time, we also pioneered the concept of non-religious funerals and weddings, allowing people to mark life’s turning points with authenticity. We offer the same services today, along with new services like non-religious pastoral support, and our celebrants are still the very best you’ll find anywhere.

The charity has unveiled its new look this week, across its website and social media channels. The first Humanists UK event will be the Humanists UK Convention in Cambridge over 9-11 June 2017, which will bring together nearly 600 humanists for a weekend of comedy, arts, and science, in celebration of the charity’s varied work for a tolerant world where rational thinking and kindness prevail.

Notes

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.

For media enquiries, please contact Humanists UK Communications Manager Liam Whitton .

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