QUAKERS IN BRITAIN have joined people from other faith and belief bodies in appealing to the prime minister to protect the Human Rights Act.

In January 2021, the government instigated an independent review of the UK’s Human Rights Act. This will report at the end of June.

In a letter to the prime minister, the signatories say they share a common value that human beings are imbued with an inherent dignity which is protected by human rights. They say the Human Rights Act has safeguarded freedoms of thought, of religion, of belief, which must not be diluted.

Oliver Robertson, Head of Witness and Worship for Quakers in Britain, said “At their core, human rights are about how we treat people. They recognise there are some things people are entitled to just because they’re human, and that there are some things it is never okay to do to people.”

The full text of the letter follows:

Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, Prime Minister & First Lord of the Treasury

Dear Prime Minister,

 We write from many different religious and belief organisations in the UK to make a joint appeal to protect the Human Rights Act.

 We believe different things about the world, our place in it, and how we should live. But what we all hold in common is that human beings are imbued with inherent dignity which is protected by human rights.

 The European Convention on Human Rights, on which the Human Rights Act is based, was Europe’s response to the horror of the Holocaust. The Act has safeguarded our freedoms, including our freedom of thought, of belief, and of religion. It has allowed us to marry and conduct funerals in line with our understandings of the world, letting us live in accordance with our beliefs.

 We do not want to see those freedoms diluted or see any measures taken to make it more difficult for people to access their rights. To do that would deprive people of what should be enjoyed by all. The human dignity that we all recognise needs a legal framework to protect it.

 Any move to weaken the Human Rights Act risks undermining the basis of all of our freedom, and would be a marker on a very slippery slope. For a United Kingdom based on decency, dignity and respect, we must keep our Human Rights Act as it is.

Yours faithfully,

David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, Church of England; Mia Hasenson-Gross, Executive Director, René Cassin – the Jewish Voice for Human Rights; Andrew Copson, Chief Executive, Humanists UK; Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Chair, British Muslims for Secular Democracy; Lord Indarjit Singh OBE, Director, Network of Sikh Organisations; Robert Harrap, General Director, Soka Gakkai International, UK;  Dr Edie Friedman, Executive Director, The Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE); Robert Wiltshire, Chair, Movement for Reform Judaism; Rabbi Mark L. Solomon, Chair, Beit Din of Liberal Judaism; Kira Blumer, CEO, Tzedek; Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain; the Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, Convener of the Faith Impact Forum, Church of Scotland; the Rt Rev Dr Joanna Penberthy, Bishop of St Davids, Church in Wales; Fraser Sutherland, Chief Executive, Humanist Society Scotland; Anita Peleg, Chair of Trustees, Generation 2 Generation; Dharmachari Guhyapati, Director, Ecodharma Centre; Canon Mark Oakley, Dean, St John’s College, Cambridge; Social Justice Group, Manchester and Warrington Quakers; Greater Manchester Humanists; Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers; the Rev Naomi Oates; Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild; the Very Rev Jerry Lepine; the Rev Margaret Crawshaw; the Rev Hilary A Jowett; the Rev Canon Nicholas P A Jowett;  the Rev Julia M Binney; the Rev James Binney; the Rev Judith Wheatley; Rabbi Dr Michael Hilton; Rabbi Anna Posner; Sister Alicia Perez; Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah; Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris; Rabbi Aaron Goldstein; Rabbi Charley Baginsky; Rabbi Fabian Sborovsky; Rabbi Warren Elf MBE; Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen; Rabbi Sybil Sheridan; Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg; Rabbi Margaret Jacobi; Ruth Forrester; Derek McComiskey; Patricia Thompson; Jill Dyble; Vera Cranmer; Bob Morley; Shirley Grant; Jackie Robinson; Felicity Allbrooke; Anne and Michael Sheehan; Marion McPherson; Judith Simpson; Richard Diebel; Dr Chris Jary; Astrid Laich; Heather Radmore; Sylvia Rigby; Jane Rosenberg; Natasha Adams; Lesley Urbach; Marjory Currie; John Cormican; Tony Kidd; Rebecca Warren; Stuart Harthill; Anne McFarlane.

* Source: Quakers in Britain