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?

3 Responses to “Eight in ten want human rights enshrined in law”

  1. Billy the Kid

    Of course if this is correct then Labour has the election in the bag and can rest easy…

    *shhhhhhccchhh* – (the sound of a toilet flushing)

  2. Andy Tarrant

    HRA entitlements come from our Humanity, not nationality. 80% of UK want to keep HR enshrined in law http://bit.ly/1Je0Zt @leftfootfwd

  3. Arthur

    It is not about disdaining human rights, but about recognising that there is a difference between the legal and the moral spheres of society, and that when the two mix, trouble stirs. Human rights law is not a mark of our progress, but a mark of our regression as a civilised society.

    Confucian philosophy is quite clear that society has failed when an aspect of our lives has to be subject to law. For example, if we treat people with respect only because of a coercive law, we are admitting that the unwritten, cultural and societal ties that bind a civilised society together have broken. And that is, I am afraid where we are today and it is the human rights ‘culture’ that must take some of the blame.

    This idea that there are separate legal and moral spheres is not limited to Confucian societies. We have it here, too. Or we did until we decided that morality had to come under the control of law. As we have turned our backs on the morality promoted by Christianity (or humanism or any other non-legal moral philosophy that guides our lives) we have found that the secular supremacists have brought more and more aspects of our lives under the control of law.

    This is not universally a good thing. As a result we now have government legislators invading our moral space, telling us not only what is correct to believe, but what is permissible to even think and say. The irony that it is under human rights culture that we see an erosion of freedom of speech (Article 10 of the ECHR) should not be lost on us. And part of the reason for this erosion is that the Article expressly permits governments to impose restrictions ‘in accordance with law.’ This has opened the door to governments to restrict our freedoms, and not increase them as advocates of human rights would have us believe.

    But the main problem with human rights law and culture is that it establishes the principle that somehow are rights are conferred on us by an authority. The British tradition, imperfect though it may be, is the exact opposite. We, the people, have a right to do as we wish as free citizens, and are only constrained by the law.

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