Comments: CofE body says 'no' to UK Bill of Rights proposals

Hey, this is jolly good. It is signed by Philip Giddings, and most readers of TA might be surprised to agree with him.

I think he is right, both that the the proposed British Bill of Rights is complete nonsense, and that it would be good (for religious freedom among other things) if the European Court of Human Rights gave a wider (in the jargon) "margin of appreciation" to member States.

Posted by Iain McLean at Tuesday, 22 November 2011 at 3:55pm GMT

It could seem rather strange - to anyone not associated with the Church of England - for those advocates on its behalf to oppose renewed efforts to pass legislation towards the attainment of Human Rights for U.K. citizens. When have human rights been in conflict with 'true religion'?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 22 November 2011 at 11:09pm GMT


Some in the UK government are hostile to the Human Rights Act currently in force, and indeed the whole concept of universal human rights, and see the move towards a UK Bill of Rights as a way to undermine these, or at least sow confusion.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Tuesday, 22 November 2011 at 11:52pm GMT

"When have human rights been in conflict with 'true religion'?" When they treat "sodomites" and those woman-things as if they were human?

Posted by Steve Lusk at Wednesday, 23 November 2011 at 12:46am GMT

This is actually an excellent and well-argued (and concise!) response, which asks some searching questions of the coalition government. It reminds me a little of the caliph Umar's famous (and fictional) riposte on the libraries of Alexandria: if the proposed BOR merely confirms the terms of the ECHR and the Human Rights Act, then we don't need it; if it attempts to limit or contravene the terms of the ECHR, then it is illegal and we cannot accept it. The onus is upon the government to explain just what this muddled and pointless bit of legislation is intended to achieve, other than pandering to the tabloid press.

Contrary to the misapprehensions of some of the commenters here, it's a clear sign that the Church of England can still show itself to be on the side of the angels - and of clear, straightforward, principled thinking.

Posted by rjb at Wednesday, 23 November 2011 at 4:31am GMT

Opposing a particular piece of human rights legislation does not necessarily mean opposing human rights. Indeed, one might reject the entire construct of enumerating particular rights in a legislative or constitutional document while believing strongly in the defence of inalienable human rights. This is particularly so in a country with a Westminster style Parliament.

I recall in the early 1980s when the left's favourite fascist Pierre Trudeau (the only Canadian Prime Minister to decalre martial law in peacetime) attempted to impose the original version of what became the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Wile the motoves of several of those opposing him might well be questioned, no one could seriously argue that Saskatchewan Premier Allan Blakeney was seeking to undermine human rights.

Blakeney was concerned that Trudeau's proposed Charter would have the unintended consequence of limiting the capacity of governments to implement programs to advance the opportunities for women and for First Nations and M├ętis people in Canada. He was also of a mind that governments either would or would not respect the rights of citizens, and that a grand Charter actually would do little to protect human rights from a government intent on violating those rights.

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Wednesday, 23 November 2011 at 6:45am GMT

Thanks, Savi and Malcolm, for bringing me up to date on the realities of the present situation in the U.K. I guess the bottom line is that the Church should always be seen to encourage basic human rights for ALL people. The parameters of what those rights are, of course, are always disputable.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 23 November 2011 at 9:28am GMT

As Savi and rjb suggest, it strikes me that the real danger is not that a UK Bill of Rights will add to the provisions of the European Convention, but that it will subtract from them.

Posted by Feria at Wednesday, 23 November 2011 at 9:57am GMT

In my view it is ironic that the Bishops seek to defend legal provisions for human rights when in the House of Lords they strongly oppose the granting of full equality - an element of full human rights to women and gay people in the Church.

Posted by Jean Mary Mayland at Saturday, 26 November 2011 at 4:30pm GMT
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