Over 130 charities have warned the UK government to not repeal the Human Rights Act.
In today’s Queen’s Speech, Elizabeth II will announce plans for a ‘British Bill of Rights’.
A coalition of the UK’s most prominent human rights organizations, including LGBTI and HIV charities like Stonewall and Terrence Higgins Trust, warn this ‘bill of rights’ will diminish protections for everyone in the UK and will threaten the very concept of the universality of human rights.
The Human Rights Act allows UK nationals access to rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), an international treaty drawn up in the wake of World War 2. It allows for over 2,000 protections, ensuring all authorities treat people with fairness, dignity and respect.
The charities fear allowing politicians to pick and choose what rights British people are allowed ‘will threaten the very concept of the universality of human rights’.
However, the Tory right has criticized the Human Rights Act for blocking the deportation of extremists.
So 135 charities, including Amnesty International, Refuge, Liberty and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, have signed a pledge.
It reads: ‘We believe in fundamental human rights and freedoms – shared values that protect every member of the human family and the society we seek to build together. Human rights underpin our democracy, hold Governments to account and require that everyone’s dignity is equally respected.
‘We pledge to oppose any Government plans to repeal our Human Rights Act – in so doing we stand firm on guaranteeing universal human rights protections for generations to come.’
Bella Sankey, Director of Policy for Liberty, said: ‘These diverse organisations speak as one in defending the Human Rights Act. They join all the devolved administrations, all major opposition parties, Conservative rebels, anti-apartheid activists and thousands of ordinary people in opposing divisive and discriminatory plans to replace human rights with Government-sanctioned privileges. There is a long struggle ahead, but as the chorus of condemnation grows, how much longer can the Government refuse to listen?’
Stephen Bowen, Director of the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR), said: ‘Whilst we still await the details, we are saddened the Government is plowing ahead with plans to scrap our Human Rights Act, the Bill of Rights we already have.
‘Today the British Institute of Human Rights is proud to stand alongside so many who recognize that the hallmark of a genuine bill of rights is its ability to protect everyone when the government doesn’t play by the rules, which the Human Rights Act does very well. We urge the Government to scrap these miserable plans.’
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: ‘This government has a mandate to reform and modernise the UK human rights framework. Our bill will protect fundamental human rights, but prevent their abuse and restore some common sense to the system. We will fully consult on our proposals.’