Equality & Human Rights
We campaign for the law and the administration of justice to be based on equality, respect for human rights, and on objective evidence. No weight should be attached to religious doctrine or to belief in the supernatural.
We believe that the right to manifest religion or belief does not permit interference with the fundamental rights of others. The right of all members of society to live free from discrimination and to have equal access to employment, to education and services always comes first.
We seek to ensure that Human Rights do not lose out to religious demands, and challenge the exemptions religious groups are granted, or demand, from laws others must follow.
What are we doing?
The National Secular Society has intervened at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to argue that Britain's equality laws should be upheld and not compromised by religious exemptions. In the intervention we argue that the four cases of Eweida, Chaplin, Ladele and McFarlane, all relating to alleged religious discrimination in the workplace, were correctly dismissed by the UK courts.
We are also co-sponsored of a parliamentary Bill in the House of Lords that would stop sharia courts in this country claiming that they have legal jurisdiction over criminal or family law.
We have lodged a number of formal complaints to the European Commission. The complaints, which are under investigation relate to employment discrimination, predominantly in schools with a religious character (faith schools').
In 2011 the NSS launched a successful legal challenge to prayers during the official business of local council meetings. On 10 February 2012 The High Court ruled that the saying of prayers as part of the formal meeting of a Council was unlawful. The court decided that holding prayers is not within the Council's legal powers.
The NSS is also a founder member of the One Law for All Campaign and the Lawyers Secular Society.