Humza Yousaf talks at a podium in front of a black curtain. He wears a blue suit and tartan tie.

Humza Yousaf turns down meeting with Humanist Society on assisted dying

August 15, 2023

Four and a half months after we sent a letter to Humza Yousaf requesting a meeting to make our case on assisted dying, we have received a reply. While it responds partially to one of our requests, it turns down our request for a meeting. And it doesn’t exactly fill us with confidence that Mr. Yousaf is making assisted dying a priority issue.

On 27 March, the day after his election as first minister, we wrote to the member for Glasgow Pollok asking that he meet with us and our co-campaigners on assisted dying. A member’s bill for assisted dying will shortly come before Holyrood, and we wanted the chance to put our case forward on what we believe is a humane, compassionate, and moderate proposal. We also asked that Mr. Yousaf ensure smooth introduction of assisted dying legislation if it passed first-stage parliamentary scrutiny.

We made clear that we understood assisted dying was partly a faith issue for the first minister. We did not expect a personal change of heart as he has previously told us he is “yet to be convinced” by the case for assisted dying. However, we wanted assurances that he had listened to assisted dying advocates.

We received a response on 10 August. It states that “if legislation is successful the Scottish Government will take the proper steps to ensure smooth commencement of the Act.” It does not agree to advanced planning following a successful first-stage vote. Mr. Yousaf also declines our offer of a meeting. The letter states: “the proposed Assisted Dying Bill is not a Scottish Government Bill but a Members Bill…..As such, the First Minister does not have the necessary detail to discuss these matters.”

This is a curious response as we would have used this meeting precisely to give Mr. Yousaf the “necessary detail” he refers to. We would also expect the first minister to have a sufficient understanding of the issues involved in the bill to meet with groups working on it. After all, this is a sensitive and important topic.

We will continue to work in good faith with Mr. Yousaf to put forward our position. But we are disappointed not to have the chance to discuss these vital matters for the future of healthcare and human rights in Scotland with the first minister.

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.

Cartoon showing a person dropping a coin into a collection box.

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.

Cartoon showing a group of protestors outside Holyrood holding up placards and carrying loudspeakers

Latest Related Stories

Keir Starmer addressing a hustings event against a red background. He wears a suit without a tie and is speaking at a lectern.

Humanist Society calls for bold action on secular and progressive causes from new government

Humanist Society calls for bold action on secular and progressive causes from new government
Cartoon showing a family group looking at a sunset over the sea.

Use our guide for responding to the assisted dying consultation

Use our guide for responding to the assisted dying consultation
Graphic showing people putting slips in a voting box showing the Humanist Society Scotland logo, and LGBT+ flag, and a science symbol. Text reads "I'm voting humanist."

We launch our general election 2024 resources

We launch our general election 2024 resources
Cartoon showing a group of people shouting with signs reading "decriminalise abortion," "safe access," and "abortion is healthcare."

Buffer zones bill passes final vote and will become law

Buffer zones bill passes final vote and will become law