Eight in ten want human rights enshrined in law

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has launched plans to preserve the Human Rights Act (HRA). Eight in ten want human rights protection enshrined in law.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has launched its three year strategy, including plans to preserve the rights in the Human Rights Act (HRA) against any future legislation, such as the proposed Conservative “British Bill of Rights”.

The Commission’s Human Rights Inquiry into the first ten years of the HRA found that eight in ten people in Britain want human rights protection enshrined in law. Keir Starmer’s now infamous speech marking his first year as Director of Public Prosecutions included a vigorous defense of the HRA, to which Philip Davies, the Tory MP for Shipley, responded: “Keir Starmer is wrong. He is out of touch with public opinion.”

David Cameron claims his Bill of Rights would strengthen core protections, and be more tailored to our needs. Strengthening may be welcome, but the basic entitlements the HRA has enforced – giving same-sex partners “nearest relative” status, and upholding the freedom to assembly of protestors – come not from our ‘Britishness’ but from our humanity. As Trevor Phillips, chair of the Commission, noted this week:

“Respect for human rights in the law is and must remain the foundation stone of our open and democratic society. In recent years we have sometimes lost sight of this fact, with some assuming human rights are instead a threat to our way of life.”

It is a sign of how secure we feel that we think human rights do not apply to us; that so many read “Human Rights Act” and hear “Criminals’ Charter”. When did we come to think these rights so inviolable as to be worthy of our distain? Are we above human rights?

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