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National Secular Society Demands UN Intervention in Tackling Religious Threats to Human Rights in the UK


National Secular Society Demands UN Intervention in Tackling Religious Threats to Human Rights in the UK
National Secular Society Demands UN Intervention in Tackling Religious Threats to Human Rights in the UK


The National Secular Society (NSS) has taken a bold step in calling on the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) to tackle religious threats to human rights within the borders of the United Kingdom (UK). In a groundbreaking maneuver, the NSS has presented evidence to the HRC, shedding light on the UK's compliance with the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which falls under the HRC's jurisdiction. The ICCPR, an international treaty safeguarding human rights, was ratified by the UK in 1976.


One area of concern highlighted by the NSS is the issue of collective worship, an obligatory practice in all state schools. However, the ability to opt out of such worship is only granted to students with parental consent, but this privilege is limited to those who are not in Sixth Form. The NSS argues that this arrangement infringes upon the right to freedom of religion or belief, as enshrined in the ICCPR. Additionally, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has advised the UK government twice in the past, urging the repeal of legislation that mandates worship.


Another pressing issue raised by the NSS pertains to faith-based school admissions in oversubscribed state-funded faith schools. These educational institutions are permitted to employ religious discrimination as part of their admissions process, thanks to exemptions from the Equality Act 2010. The NSS asserts that these exemptions run counter to the principles of non-discrimination outlined in the ICCPR. Additionally, the NSS contends that admissions criteria have progressively become more stringent, in some cases amounting to coercive control over families.


Through its submission of evidence on the UK's adherence to the ICCPR, the NSS aims to bring attention to the threats posed by religious practices to human rights in the country. Their ultimate goal is for the United Nations Human Rights Committee to address these concerns and actively collaborate towards aligning the UK's religious practices with internationally recognized human rights standards.

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