Over 20 MPs and peers from across both Houses of the UK Parliament have written to the Prime Minister regarding his recent appointment of Fiona Bruce MP as his Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

The letter, organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, calls on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ensure Ms Bruce adopts an inclusive approach in her new role, including upholding the right to freedom of belief for the non-religious and for women and LGBT+ people, given her concerning record across these areas.

Among other points, the letter says: “Ms Bruce is a longstanding opponent of freedom of religion or belief for the non-religious. She has dedicated much time and effort to ensure teaching of non-religious worldviews is excluded in English schools. This is in defiance of court rulings that inclusive teaching is required to ensure freedom of religion or belief, and in contravention to the approach of several international agreements to which the UK is a signatory, which emphasises that such teaching is an essential part of freedom of religion or belief.”

It continues: “Beyond this, her views and actions on wider and related human rights, such as the human rights and right to freedom of religion or belief of women and LGBT+ people, are incompatible with this post.” Examples cited include women’s civil rights (including freedom of conscience on end of life issues) and same-sex marriage, both of which Ms Bruce appears to oppose.

The letter concludes: “While we acknowledge Ms Bruce’s personal right to such actions and opinions in a free and fair country, we do not consider they are aligned with the UK’s commitments on freedom of religion or belief. Global stakeholders will recognise this and her appointment will undermine the UK’s ability to advocate for human rights generally and freedom of religion or belief specifically. Accordingly we seek your urgent reassurance that your envoy will promote the interests of those who identify with humanist values, usually non-religious, and address the anxieties this appointment brings LGBT+ people given her record and who would like it confirmed for example that her views on conversion therapy mirror your own. If Ms Bruce is unable to articulate your own publicly expressed views on these matters you will surely want to reconsider this appointment altogether.”