Human dignity requires a legal framework

Quakers in Britain have joined people from other faith and belief bodies in appealing to the prime minister to protect the Human Rights Act.

law books and wooden hammer
Human rights must be protected by law . (Photo: Pixabay)

In January 2021, the government instigated an independent review of the UK's Human Rights Act. This will be reporting at the end of June.

In a letter to the prime minister, the signatories say they share a common value that human beings are imbued with inherent dignity, which is protected by human rights. They say the Human Rights Act has safeguarded freedoms of thought, of religion, of belief, which must not be diluted.

Oliver Robertson, Head of Witness and Worship for Quakers in Britain, said “At their core, human rights are about how we treat people. They recognise there are some things people are entitled to just because they're human, and that there are some things it is never okay to do to people."

The full text of the letter follows:

Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP

Prime Minister & First Lord of the Treasury

Dear Prime Minister,

We write from many different religious and belief organisations in the UK to make a joint appeal to protect the Human Rights Act.

We believe different things about the world, our place in it, and how we should live. But what we all hold in common is that human beings are imbued with inherent dignity which is protected by human rights.

The European Convention on Human Rights, on which the Human Rights Act is based, was Europe's response to the horror of the Holocaust. The Act has safeguarded our freedoms, including our freedom of thought, of belief, and of religion. It has allowed us to marry and conduct funerals in line with our understandings of the world, letting us live in accordance with our beliefs.


What we all hold in common is that human beings are imbued with inherent dignity which is protected by human rights.

- Letter to Prime Minister


We do not want to see those freedoms diluted or see any measures taken to make it more difficult for people to access their rights. To do that would deprive people of what should be enjoyed by all. The human dignity that we all recognise needs a legal framework to protect it.

Any move to weaken the Human Rights Act risks undermining the basis of all of our freedom, and would be a marker on a very slippery slope. For a United Kingdom based on decency, dignity and respect, we must keep our Human Rights Act as it is.

Yours faithfully,

David Walker, Bishop of Manchester,

Church of England

Mia Hasenson-Gross, Executive Director,

René Cassin – the Jewish Voice for Human


Andrew Copson, Chief Executive,

Humanists UK

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Chair,

British Muslims for Secular Democracy

Lord Indarjit Singh OBE, Director,

Network of Sikh Organisations

Robert Harrap, General Director,

Soka Gakkai International, UK

Dr Edie Friedman, Executive Director,

The Jewish Council for Racial Equality


Robert Wiltshire, Chair,

Movement for Reform Judaism

Rabbi Mark L. Solomon, Chair,

Beit Din of Liberal Judaism

Kira Blumer, CEO,


Paul Parker, Recording Clerk,

Quakers in Britain

Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, Convener of the

Faith Impact Forum,

The Church of Scotland

Rt Revd Dr Joanna Penberthy,

Bishop of St Davids, Church in Wales

Fraser Sutherland, Chief Executive,

Humanist Society Scotland

Anita Peleg, Chair of Trustees,

Generation 2 Generation

Dharmachari Guhyapati, Director,

Ecodharma Centre

Canon Mark Oakley, Dean,

St John's College, Cambridge

Social Justice Group, Manchester and

Warrington Quakers

Greater Manchester Humanists

Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers

Revd Naomi Oates

Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild

The Very Revd Jerry Lepine

Rev Margaret Crawshaw,

Rev Hilary A Jowett

Rev Canon Nicholas P A Jowett

Rev Julia M Binney

Rev James Binney

Rev Judith Wheatley

Rabbi Dr Michael Hilton

Rabbi Anna Posner

Sister Alicia Perez

Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah

Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris

Rabbi Aaron Goldstein

Rabbi Charley Baginsky

Rabbi Fabian Sborovsky

Rabbi Warren Elf MBE

Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen

Rabbi Sybil Sheridan

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg

Rabbi Margaret Jacobi

Ruth Forrester

Derek McComiskey

Patricia Thompson

Jill Dyble

Vera Cranmer

Bob Morley

Shirley Grant

Jackie Robinson

Felicity Allbrooke

Anne and Michael Sheehan

Marion McPherson

Judith Simpson

Richard Diebel

Dr Chris Jary

Astrid Laich

Heather Radmore

Sylvia Rigby

Jane Rosenberg

Natasha Adams

Lesley Urbach

Marjory Currie

John Cormican

Tony Kidd

Rebecca Warren

Stuart Harthill

Anne McFarlane