Equipping Christians for the General Election

Where do the main parties stand on religious liberty and equality?
Public Affairs

CARE campaigns for the provision of space in the public square and market place for Christians and people of other faiths to live, work and conduct business in accordance with their faith without being viewed as extremists or risk prosecution. Further information as to where CARE stands on Religious Liberty and Equality issues can be accessed here

Below are extracts from the manifestos of the larger political parties relating to religious liberty and equality.

Alliance Party

“Key elements for Alliance in a shared future… would include:

  • Passing a Single Equality Bill.” (pg. 12)

“Alliance is a strong supporter of the European Convention on Human Rights. We will oppose any proposed repeal of the Human Rights Act or withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights.” (pg. 13)

“Alliance will:

  • Continue to promote our unwavering commitment to freedom of, and from, religion across the world and opposing discrimination on the basis of religion or belief.
  • Promote LGBTI+ rights across the world.
  • Use the UK’s role in the Commonwealth to make progress on protecting the rights of women, religious minorities and LGBTI+ people.” (pg. 34)

Conservative Party

The Conservative party will “continue to champion British values around the globe: freedom, democracy, tolerance and the rule of law.” (pg. 38)

They “will expand our global efforts to combat extremism, terror, and the perpetration of violence against people because of their faith, gender or sexuality.” (pg. 38)

The Conservative party pledges to “replace the unfair and ineffective inclusivity rules that prevent the establishment of new Roman Catholic schools, instead requiring new faith schools to prove that parents of other faiths and none would be prepared to send their children to that school.” (pg. 50)

The Conservative party will “consider what new criminal offences might need to be created, and what new aggravated offences might need to be established, to defeat the extremists. We will support the public sector and civil society in identifying extremists, countering their messages and promoting pluralistic, British values. And we will establish a Commission for Countering Extremism to identify examples of extremism and expose them, to support the public sector and civil society, and help the government to identify policies to defeat extremism and promote pluralistic values.” (pg. 55)

The Conservative party promises to “push forward with our plan for tackling hate crime committed on the basis of religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity.” (pg. 44)

They will “work with schools to make sure that those with intakes from one predominant racial, cultural or religious background teach their students about pluralistic, British values and help them to get to know people with different ways of life.” (pg. 55)

They will also “strengthen the enforcement of equalities law – so that private landlords and businesses who deny people a service on the basis of ethnicity, religion or gender are properly investigated and prosecuted.” (pg. 56)

Democratic Unionist Party

No comment

Green Party (England and Wales)

The Green Party promises to “reject the xenophobic Prevent strategy and pursue community-led collaborative approaches to tackling all forms of extremism instead.” (pg. 15)

The Green Party will “co-operate with our neighbours on the shared challenges that face us all – from tackling terrorism and preventing climate change, to reducing inequality. We would work towards an outward-facing Britain that has the confidence and resilience to welcome others.” (pg. 19)

The Green Party promises an “action to tackle racism and discrimination on the basis of faith or disability, real equality for LGBTIQA+ people, equal rights for mixed gender couples to have a Civil Partnership.” (pg. 21)

Green Party in Northern Ireland

The Green Party will “immediately ratify and implement the Istanbul Convention on Women’s Rights.” (pg. 12)

Labour Party

“We will always provide our security agencies with the resources and the powers they need to protect our country and keep us all safe. We will also ensure that such powers do not weaken our individual rights or civil liberties.” (pg.77)

Labour commits to “reintroduce effective judicial oversight over how and when they are used, when the circumstances demand that our collective security outweighs an individual freedom. Labour will review the Prevent programme with a view to assessing both its effectiveness and its potential to alienate minority communities. In doing so, we will address the government’s failure to take any effective new measures against a growing problem of extreme or violent radicalisation.” (pg. 77)

“A Labour government will enhance the powers and functions of [the Equality and Human Rights] Commission, making it truly independent, to ensure it can support ordinary working people to effectively challenge any discrimination they may face.” (pg. 108)

“A Labour government will reinstate the public sector equality duties and seek to extend them to the private sector, ensuring all citizens benefit from this Labour legislation.” (pg. 108)

“A Labour government will reform the Gender Recognition Act and the Equality Act 2010 to ensure they protect Trans people by changing the protected characteristic of ‘gender assignment’ to ‘gender identity’ and remove other outdated language such as ‘transsexual’.“(pg. 111)

“Labour will bring the law on LGBT hate crimes into line with hate crimes based on race and faith, by making them aggravated offences.” (pg. 111)

“To tackle bullying of LGBT young people, Labour will ensure that all teachers receive initial and ongoing training on the issues students face and how to address them. And we will ensure that the new guidance for relationships and sex education is LGBT inclusive.” (pg. 111)

Labour commits to “appoint dedicated global ambassadors for women’s rights, LGBT rights and religious freedom to fight discrimination and promote equality globally.” (pg. 118)

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats promise to “extend the Equality Act to all large companies with more than 250 employees, requiring them to monitor and publish data on gender, BAME, and LGBT+ employment levels and pay gaps.” (pg. 71)

They will “guarantee the freedom of people to wear religious or cultural dress, and tackle the growing incidence of Islamophobic hate crime.” (pg. 72)

They will “extend protection of gender reassignment in equality law to explicitly cover gender identity and expression, and streamline and simplify the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to allow individuals to change their legal gender without unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles, for example the intrusive medical tests currently required.” (pg. 72)

The Liberal Democrats promise to “ensure that trans prisoners are placed in prisons that reflect their gender identity, rather than their birth gender.” (pg. 76)

The Liberal Democrats pledge to “scrap the flawed Prevent strategy and replace it with a scheme that prioritises community engagement and supports communities in developing their own approach to tackling the dangers of violent extremism.” (pg. 77)

Plaid Cymru

“Where we are: Our fundamental human rights are at risk, exposing the weakest, most vulnerable members of our communities.

Plaid Cymru’s answer: We will publish a human rights charter for Wales to defend Welsh people against the backdrop of a Tory government intent on undermining the Human Rights Act.

Where we can be: Legal protection for our human rights and guarantees that whatever your race, gender or sexual orientation you will be treated equally.” (pg. 39)

Scottish Greens

“We will respect the basic human rights of all citizens and will celebrate the progress made as part of Europe. Brexit must not be used as an excuse to water down or repeal any other domestic protections, such as the Equality Act 2010.  We support the UK remaining part of the European Convention on Human Rights, will oppose any effort to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998, and support adopting the European Social Charter to protect fundamental social and economic rights.” (pg. 12)

Scottish National Party

“The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is enshrined in the Scotland Act 1998, ensuring that human rights are protected by the Scottish Government and all Scottish legislation. The SNP re-affirms its commitment to the Council of Europe, the ECHR and their institutions. We will fight to protect human rights across the UK. SNP MPs will oppose any attempts by the UK government to scrap the Human Rights Act and withdraw the UK from the ECHR.” (pg. 30)

“To tackle workplace discrimination and sexist dress codes, SNP MPs will vote for a change in the Equality Act to strengthen and change the law that currently allows employers to have different dress codes for men and women.”(pg. 34)

“The SNP Scottish Government is committed to reviewing and reforming gender recognition laws, in line with international best practice. SNP MPs will press the UK government to match the Scottish Government’s commitment to legislation within this parliament. SNP MPs will continue to demand full devolution of equality law to the Scottish Parliament. Until that happens we will seek equality law reforms to ensure same-sex couples have equal pension rights and protected characteristics are expanded to ensure all LGBTI people are fully protected from discrimination and harassment. At Westminster the SNP successfully pressured the UK government to pass a ‘Turing Bill’ which pardoned deceased gay men convicted for same-sex sexual activity that is now lawful. SNP MPs will press the UK government to go further and match the Scottish Government’s commitment to extend the pardon to gay men who are still alive today and have such records.”(pg. 37)

“SNP MPs will support the establishment of a special envoy to promote the rights of LGBTI people throughout the world, as an integral part of UK foreign policy – helping to alleviate the discrimination and persecution faced by LGBTI people in Chechnya and across the world.”(pg. 47)

“There needs to be reform to the detention and asylum system for LGBTI individuals escaping countries where homosexuality is still criminalised, removing unfair and invasive demands for ‘proof’ of sexuality or gender identity.”(pg. 47)

 Sinn Fein

“Sinn Fein priorities include:

  • A Bill of rights for the North
  • An All-Ireland charter of fundamental rights” (p10)

Social Democratic and Labour Party

No comment

UKIP

UKIP says that “Britain has always welcomed people of whatever faith, nationality or creed who have wanted to make their home in this country, but a lack of vision for an integrated Britain has led to our society becoming more and more fragmented. UKIP will take integration as seriously as we have immigration, and we will not tolerate the intolerable.” (pg. 35)

“UKIP will stand up for the equal rights of all people in Britain, and say we are proud of our country and its achievements, our values of free speech, democracy, independence, and patriotism. We will promote British values in our legal system, in our schools, and in our society.” (pg. 35)

UKIP emphasises that “the growth of sharia councils is of great concern to the public, as is the apparent unwillingness of the political class to prevent them proliferating.  UKIP will take action: we will establish a legal commission to draw up proposals to disband sharia councils. It is simple: there should be one law for all.” (pg. 35)

“UKIP will challenge those who do not uphold the rights of women, or who set themselves on a deliberate collision course with core British values of equality, free speech and democracy. We will protect all women, regardless of their race, ethnicity or religion. Culture is not an excuse for crime, nor is ignorance of the law”’ (pg. 36)

UKIP pledges to “ban wearing of the niqab and the burqa in public places. Face coverings such as these are barriers to integration. We will not accept these de-humanising symbols of segregation and oppression, nor the security risks they pose.” (pg. 37)

‘Until such time as the Muslim community is better integrated, UKIP proposes:

  • Immediately putting into Special Measures schools found to be exposing children to Islamism
  • Giving schools the right to dismiss forthwith any teachers, members of staff or governors found to be actively supporting radical mosques or imams
  • Requiring Ofsted to conduct snap inspections of schools when parents or pupils have raised concerns that:
  • Girls are being offered unequal access to music, dance, PE or drama lessons, or are otherwise discriminated against
  • Anti-Western, anti-Semitic, or anti-equality views are being expressed by staff or governors
  • Muslim or non-Muslim pupils who challenge or do not share hardline views are being bullied or ridiculed.’(pg.38)

UKIP reaffirms its 2015 Manifesto pledge to “protect religious freedoms in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, provided those beliefs exist firmly within the framework of British law. We will not condone any faith position that is itself intolerant of the human rights of others.” (pg. 38)

UKIP will “refuse admission to prisons to any imam, preacher or individual known to promote views contrary to British values.” (pg. 41)

Ulster Unionist Party

No comment

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