It Isn’t Just Happening Over There — Our Basic Human Rights are Under Threat Right Now in the UK

Our basic human rights are under attack here in the UK right now. We must protect them together today.

If you live in the UK, your most basic human rights are under attack right now.

This isn’t alarmist, or a conspiracy theory.

This is a simple fact.

Just to be clear, what I am saying is that there are already moves towards anti-abortion policies and other, wider-reaching infringements on our basic human rights here in the UK Government.

And I am terrified that more people I know simply don’t seem to know about any of it.

This post is an introduction to the current and very dangerous changes to the law the British Government is in the process of pushing through, which, if successful, will limit the basic human rights of every single one of us here in the UK.

If you already know about these issues and just want to take action quickly, read on.

Want to Take Action Without Reading This Whole Post? Start Here.

(If you want all the information and links to other resources, then scroll down and come back to this action section a bit later).

I get it. We all have so much else to worry about right now.

And this is big and scary and overwhelming, and it is on top of everything else that the past few years have put us through.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that the UK Government is “weakening our rights and reducing their responsibility to us” and that we need to all band together right now to stop this from happening.

Let me make it easier for you to take part in this important fight for our rights as citizens of the UK.

Do these things right now, please:

1. Sign this petition to the Justice Secretary to keep the protections that the current UK Human Rights Act gives us all AND this petition to Parliament to argue against these reforms. We deserve to have our fundamental human rights protected in law. This will take you around 1 minute.

2. Write to your MP about this. Tell them it is important to you; they are your representative in Parliament. They are paid to listen to what you have to say about any issue.

You can use the templates on this page (created by The British Institute of Human Rights) to save you time, but if you personalize your email, it will have more impact than lots of people sending the exact same thing. You can find out how to contact your MP by putting your postcode into this website. If you use the templates, this will take you less than 5 minutes.

3. Share this article with at least 5 other people. We can not stop this alone. We need large numbers of people to participate in stopping this. It is the only way to get the Government to listen and stop in their tracks. The more people you tell about it and what they can do to stop it, the better. This will take you around 1 minute.

4. Follow my Medium page. If you like having simple actions to stand up for democracy and human rights in the UK laid out for you like this, then follow me here on Medium and you will be notified by email the next time I write a post like this one. This will take you less than 1 minute.

5. Sign up for the free newsletters from one or more of the organizations that are dedicated to fighting this. We need to be more widely informed to protect ourselves. These newsletters will do the hard work for you. And if you are having a bad day, or sometimes just can’t engage on top of everything else, remember you don’t always need to open the emails.

The British Institute of Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights

openDemocracy

This will take you less than 1 minute for each organization.

6. Donate to any of the organizations that are dedicated to fighting this. Even £1 to one of them would help if you can afford it. These organizations are fighting against well-funded, powerful people and commercial interests; they need money to keep going and to be effective.

The British Institute of Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights

openDemocracy

This will take you a few minutes for each organization you choose to support.

7. Read the rest of this article (it doesn’t have to be right now) Yeah, I know that is action step is cheating but hear me out. We are privileged to live in a society and a country where we can participate in the political process. We have freedoms and rights that many other people don’t.

So, if you are in a position to participate more in politics, don’t let the fact that it is politics stop you. Politics underpins everything else we do in our lives, whether we like it or not. Ignoring this doesn’t make it less true.

We all have a responsibility for our own political education. We all have a responsibility for our own political participation. We all have a responsibility to future generations.

This will take you a bit longer, but it will be worth it to create the future we choose.

Far-right extremists are winning these terrifying political battles around the world because they consistently and cohesively show up and other people do not. And I understand that it’s hard and scary and overwhelming. I understand that we can’t all fight for everything all the time and that so many other things are already a battle. So, if you do choose to join in this time, also choose to slow down, take one step at a time, but do not give up and do not stop engaging entirely or they will win and everyone else will lose.

“The world will not be destroyed by evil people but by good people who do nothing to stop it”. ― Bangambiki Habyarimana, The Great Pearl of Wisdom

The small pocket of powerful, rich people who are pushing this change (and other changes) in the law through would love nothing more than for you to do nothing.

How about we don’t make it easy for them to steal our basic rights out from under us?

MPs work for us; they are in government to represent us, and they are paid by us; let’s remind them of those facts right now.

Want to Read the Information Before Taking Any Action? Then Start Here.

The news last week hit like a punch in the gut.

It has had a lot of media coverage here in the UK.

Lots of us are appalled and outraged and angry about it.

But I’ve also heard a lot of “it is terrible what is happening over there in the US” this week, which made me realise that most people do not know what very similar things are happening here, in the UK, right now.

How can any of us do anything to prevent something that we do not even know is happening?

Just to be clear, what I am saying is that there are already moves towards anti-abortion policies and other, wider-reaching infringements on our basic human rights here in the UK Government.

You can read more about the UK anti-abortion movement and how to stand against it here.

The Danger We Are Facing in the UK Right Now

So, what is happening here in the UK?

The UK Government is planning to replace our Human Rights Act with the introduction of a new bill, the Rights Removal Bill (technically it is called the Bill of Rights Bill but that is clearly a false title as it removes so many rights from us all).

What is the Human Rights Act?

The Human Rights Act is a UK law that was passed in 1998. It sets out the fundamental rights and freedoms that everyone in the UK is entitled to.

“It lets you defend your rights in UK courts and compels public organizations, including the Government, police and local councils, to treat everyone equally, with fairness, dignity and respect.” Liberty Human Rights

The Human Rights Act is the legal mechanism that many high-profile cases you will have seen on the news used to seek justice. “From the families of Hillsborough victims and military veterans to disabled people and survivors of violence against women and girls.”

What is the Rights Removal Bill?

If you don’t already know, a bill is a proposed law that is introduced into Parliament. If it gets debated and approved by each House of Parliament, and then receives Royal Assent, it becomes law and is then called an Act. If this bill becomes law, we will all probably lose some of our most basic and fundamental rights as UK citizens.

Dominic Raab has recently introduced the Rights Removal Bill into the UK House of Commons. It appears to have been written to undermine our democratic process and “represents the latest step in plans to reduce their responsibilities to uphold the human rights protections people rely on every day across the UK.”

Some of the key concerns over this bill, as explained by the BIHR and Liberty, are:

- That it introduces a new permission stage for people wanting to challenge the Government and public bodies using human rights claims. This will mean that if you want to bring human rights claim to court against the Government in the UK, you will potentially first need to get the permission of the Government. If this happens, it will make it harder for ordinary people to access justice and hold the state (Government and public bodies) to account than it is under current laws.

- That it removes the requirement for the Government and public bodies to take reasonable steps to protect us from harm. If this happens, it will apply to decisions and actions in the future and the past, so current reasonable protection from harm could be easily removed if this bill becomes law. This will potentially mean that none of us will have any legal right to expect protection from harm from any public body or service.

- That it removes the legal requirement that all laws are interpreted to support people’s human rights by repealing (cancelling) section 3 of our current Human Rights Act. This section of the Human Rights Act is the part that makes human right laws in the UK work for real people in their every day lives. It basically says that current laws and decisions based on law all need to respect the human rights of people involved. Removing this section means decisions made by the Government and public bodies will potentially no longer have to respect anyone’s human rights.

- It reduces the requirement for the Government and public bodies to proportionately restrict our human rights when it is unavoidable. There are always going to be conflicts between the greater good of the nation and individual human rights. The current law says that when this happens, human rights can be limited but only in the least restrictive way possible. This bill seeks to remove this by telling judges how to decide if any restriction is proportionate. The potentially removing the current safeguards that seek to minimize harm to people and infringement of their human rights wherever possible.

- The Rights Removal Bill allows the Government to overreach and to be less accountable for its actions at the expense of every person who lives in the UK. “We all want to live in an equal, just and fair society, where governments and public bodies act in our best interests.” — Liberty Human Rights. In my opinion, and the opinion of much smarter people than I, this bill does the opposite of this in many, many ways.

This section could go on and on. There is a lot about this bill that conflicts with our individual human rights, but I need to go to work now.

I hope you have found this helpful in understanding what the UK Government is doing and how dangerous it is for us all.

Please take action with me to help prevent this right now.

Thank you for reading this.

What Next?

Scroll back up and work through the action steps.

If you’ve done that and want to do more:

- Follow and read the links that this article contains. Make yourself more informed.

- Consider joining a political party of your choice. Research your local parties and approach them to find out more about them and what they stand for. You can ask questions and take time to decide, but engaging with them is being a part of the process.

- Read Truth to Power by Jess Phillips.

- Find people in your community who want to work against this with you, even if it is just sharing links to petitions when you see them. We combat this through networks and collective action.

- Read more about how our rights to abortion are also being threatened here in the UK.

- Take care of yourself. If we are worn out and exhausted, we can’t fight back. They want that. Don’t fall for it. Looking after yourself is an act of rebellion and resistance, too.

Please Note

This post draws together the work of organizations and people who understand these laws much better than most of us. I do not claim credit for any of their content or legal knowledge. Each piece of work that I refer to that others have created is linked to throughout the article and here is a list of those organizations:

The British Institute of Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights

openDemocracy

Please support them in any way that you can. The work they do is vital for us all.

Much of what I included here is based on my personal research and reading, uncovered by a quick Google. In writing this, I want to raise the awareness of more everyday people that our democracy is being eroded as we speak and that we can do something about it if we stand together.

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Claire Collis

Claire Collis

I’m a digital education specialist, writer, teacher & mentor. I write about online education, women, business & the politics that impact those things & us all.