We welcome support for equal protection bill

May 16, 2019

Humanist Society Scotland has welcomed the news the Scottish Parliament Equalities and Human Rights Committee has backed John Finnie MSP’s equal protection bill in the Scottish Parliament. The Stage One report quotes Humanist Society Scotland’s evidence to the committee.

John Finnie MSP

A number of religious organisations opposed the introduction of the bill on a faith basis, with Rev. Richard Ross of Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) saying in evidence to the committee:

Children are given to the parents to bring them up. It does not belong to the state to tell parents at what level they are to deal with their children…We are talking about a God-given right.

Rev. Richard Ross of Free Church of Scotland (Continuing)

However, other faith groups such as the Church of Scotland and the Quakers supported the Bill alongside Humanist Society Scotland. In addition, a number of children’s welfare organisations and academic experts in child psychology gave detailed evidence on the impact physical punishment has on child development.

Commenting on the Stage One report, which has support from five of the seven members of the committee, Humanist Society Scotland’s Campaigns Manager, Fraser Sutherland, who gave evidence to the Committee enquiry, said:

We are pleased to see MSPs of the committee backed this Bill which will see the law rectified and properly protect children from assault in Scotland.

It is disappointing to see this relatively light touch change to protect children’s rights fail to gather support from two other Parliamentarians on the committee. As was very evident by the evidence given to the committee the only clear opposition came from organised religious groups who sought to claim there was a “God-given right” to hit children.

In comparison, wide-reaching support for the bill came from a plethora of international experts on child development and the negative impacts physical punishment has on children’s development.

Fraser Sutherland, Humanist Society Scotland

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