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We write to party leaders to gauge position on key humanist causes

June 4, 2024

With the UK general election approaching on 4 July, we’ve written to the parties standing across Scotland asking if they support removing unelected bishops from the House of Lords, climate emergency action, and more.

At Humanist Society Scotland we want to see a more ethical, rational, and socially just Scotland. Much of our work focuses on pressing for change at Holyrood. But decisions taken by the UK government also have a significant impact on Scottish society. That’s why we’ve written to the leaders of Scottish Labour, the Scottish Conservatives, the SNP, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Scottish Greens, Alba and Reform UK, asking where they stand on key humanist causes.

We want to know if these parties will remove the 26 unelected bishops who still sit in the House of Lords, undermining democratic process across the UK. We want to know if they will press for the UK Foreign Office to champion freedom of religion and belief around the world. And we want to know what urgent steps they will take to tackle the climate and nature emergencies, as well as pushing back against the climate of hostility experienced by asylum seekers and LGBT+ communities.

Read our letter in full here. Here are our key demands:

1. Unelected bishops in the House of Lords

The presence of 26 unelected bishops in the House of Lords represents an outdated religious privilege that undermines democratic processes in the UK. Does your party support the removal of these unelected religious advocates from the House of Lords?

2. Freedom of thought and belief

The Freedom of Thought Report 2023 highlights ongoing discrimination against non-religious communities in 186 countries. Will your party advocate for the UK Foreign Office to champion freedom of religion and belief in all its bilateral engagements and lead global efforts to abolish blasphemy and apostasy laws?

3. Climate emergency action

The climate emergency is an urgent global crisis. According to a recent report in the journal Nature, 89% of people worldwide demand greater action from their leaders. What steps will your party take, in collaboration with the Scottish government and local authorities, to implement effective measures against climate change?

4. Protect asylum seekers

The UK has a moral and legal responsibility to help those fleeing persecution and abuse, in order that they can be safe and rebuild their lives. Non-religious and faith-leaver asylum seekers are often treated less favourably than other belief-group minorities on arrival in the UK. Will your party stand up for the rights, dignity and wellbeing of asylum seekers?

5. Stand up for the LGBT+ community

In recent years, LGBT+ people across the UK have endured a climate of hostility fuelled by politicians, public figures and the mainstream media. Will your party stand up to the rampant discrimination against the LGBT+ community that has characterised much of today’s political and cultural discourse?

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