The current parliamentary term could be a pivotal time for humanism in Scotland. We look forward to the passing of a law to protect women from harassment outside abortion clinics, and we hope that new rules will follow to ensure dignity in dying. But we need your help to keep making noise about these causes, particularly given our new first minister’s uncertainty about right-to-die legislation.

Fraser Sutherland, CEO of Humanist Society Scotland, addressing a crowd in front of a Humanist Society Scotland banner.

There are wide-reaching, positive social changes being discussed at Parliament right now, and a new first minister gives us a fresh chance to make our case. But we need your help to get over the line on ensuring protest-free access to abortion services and establishing a compassionate end-of-life choice for dying people.

It’s particularly important we convince Humza Yousaf of the need for assisted dying laws in Scotland, as he’s not fully behind the bill yet. Please consider joining, supporting, or donating to Humanist Society Scotland.

Fraser Sutherland, CEO of Humanist Society Scotland.

Assisted dying

As humanists, we want people to have as much choice as possible over the way they die. In 2021, Liam McArthur MSP proposed a new law that would allow assisted dying for terminally ill adults in Scotland. The proposed law would only apply to adults at the end of their life. It would also include safeguards for people with disabilities. A consultation on the idea received a record-breaking 14,000 responses with a large majority in favour. Soon, Mr McArthur’s bill will be in front of the Scottish parliament. It could become law within a couple of years, but our new first minister, Humza Yousaf, has stated he is “yet to be convinced” by the bill. To make change happen we need as much public support as possible. Find out more here.

My Beliefs, My Choice campaign

In Scotland, children at non-denominational schools (schools that aren’t connected to a particular religion) still have to take part in compulsory “religious observance.” This could mean a representative of a local church preaching to them or leading prayers during assembly. We understand religion is an important topic to cover in professionally-led education but we believe the system relating to religious worship should be “opt in.” At present, to opt out, children need support from their parents. We believe children can make this decision themselves and that denying them that right does not meet the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Scottish law follows. Find out more about our work and campaign on this issue here.

Buffer zones for abortion clinics

Women should be able to make decisions about their own bodies without fear of intimidation from faith-based groups. That’s why we support Back Off Scotland’s campaign to introduce buffer zones around abortion clinics, so that religious protestors cannot harass women accessing them. This year, a bill ensuring safe access to abortion services is going to be discussed at Holyrood, and it could become law. We will keep advocating to ensure that the bill is successful, so that Scotland catches up with the rest of the UK, where similar legislation was introduced in October last year. Find out more here.

Gender Recognition Act reform

We support a person’s right to live and be legally recognised as the gender that they identify with. We supported the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill that was passed at Holyrood, and that was designed to simplify the process of obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate. However, in January 2023, the UK government blocked the bill from becoming law in Scotland, using powers it retains over the Scottish parliament. We oppose this decision and we welcome Humza Yousaf’s decision to mount a legal challenge to the block. Find out more about our work on Gender Recognition Act reform here.

Fair School Votes campaign

Scotland is a more secular country than ever. A YouGov poll undertaken for Humanist Society Scotland last year found that just one in three Scots identifies as religious, and only 18% attend church. But education has not kept up with the pace of change. There are still laws which allow unelected church representatives to have voting rights on local education boards. This makes a real difference to the way schools are run and we want the Scottish Government to scrap the rules. You can find out more about the campaign and sign our petition here.

Support our campaign work, make a donation today

Our campaign work is funded by the generous support of our members and supporters. Support our campaign work and help to create a fairer Scotland and world.

Handwriting a letter

Join us!

Your membership will help to fund our campaign work to make Scotland a more secular, rational, and socially just country, and to ensure everyone in Scotland has access to humanist ceremonies to mark important life events.

Two people in a conference crowd laughing

Latest Related Stories

Fraser Sutherland address a crowd (not visible) from a podium wearing a blue suit and green tweed tie against a purple wall. He has short brown hair and his hands opened as if to clarify a point.

Our CEO interviewed in The National on religious rep education votes

Our CEO interviewed in The National on religious rep education votes
Sunset in the Trossachs. A salmon=pink and blue sky above mountain ranges in the distance and moorland covered in trees and mist in the foreground.

Humanist Society has its say on assisted dying in the media

Humanist Society has its say on assisted dying in the media
An image of Gemma leaning against a concrete waymarker, probably on a mountain walk, on a foggy day. She smiles at the camera, has died auburn hair and a maroon jacket.

Humanist Society interviews: Gemma Clark

Humanist Society interviews: Gemma Clark
An image of Auldearn Primary School near Nairn, a stone building with large windows and a slate roof, flanked by pine trees and with a highland landscape in the background.

Highland Council removes votes from religious representatives on education committee

Highland Council removes votes from religious representatives on education committee