A significant part of our output, which often receives less attention, is our submissions to Government or international bodies' consultations. A selection of these submissions can be found below.
The Welsh Government consulted on how they can tackle inequalities experienced by LGBTQ+ communities, challenge discrimination, and create a society where LGBTQ+ people are safe to live and love authentically, openly and freely as themselves.
The NSS responded with recommendations for ending 'conversion therapy', tackling charities promoting anti-LGBT+ ideology, ensuring all schools are LGBT+ inclusive and challenging discrimination against LGBT+ people in employment in faith-based organisations.
The Office for National Statistics consulted on the release of census data and a proposed programme of analysis, to draw insights from that data.
The NSS's response calls for outputs on the Census 2021 to refer to "religion or belief" where possible and appropriate. We also call for the 'religion question', and subsequent outputs, in all future censuses to be phrased in a manner that is inclusive of the nonreligious.
Every few years the Law Commission undertakes a public consultation with a view to submitting to the Lord Chancellor a draft Programme of Law Reform.
The NSS has submitted five ideas for law reform:
- Abolish laws requiring collective worship in schools
- Remove 'the advancement of religion' as a charitable purpose
- Genital cutting – give greater protection for boys
- Remove religious exemptions to animal welfare laws regarding slaughter
- A legal framework for assisted dying
The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) consulted on proposals for rules on harm and protected characteristics.
The NSS warned that without greater clarity, the new rules may increase religious censorship and inadvertently harm people on the basis of protected characteristics such as sex and sexual orientation.
The Scottish Government's Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee has invited views on a public petition, PE1817: End Conversion Therapy.
The petition was lodged in August 2020. It calls on the Scottish Parliament "to urge the Scottish Government to ban the provision or promotion of LGBT+ conversion therapy in Scotland".
The NSS responded with advice on what actions the Scottish Government could take to end 'conversion therapy'.
Since 1 November 2020, UK-established video-sharing platforms (VSPs) must comply with new rules around protecting users from harmful content. Ofcom are consulting on draft guidance for providers on the regulatory requirements.
The NSS has raised concerns regarding free speech, as allegations of 'inciting hatred' may be used by religious groups to censor videos that criticise or ridicule religion.
The NSS opposes the exception of teachers from the Fair Employment and Treatment (NI) Order 1998. The NSS supports efforts to remove this exemption, including for both primary and post-primary teachers, along with statutory monitoring and reporting responsibilities for the employment of teachers equivalent to those for comparable roles.
Northern Ireland's Minister for Communities has commissioned an Independent Review of Charity Regulation in NI, to consider the Charities Act (NI) 2008 (the Act) and the roles of the Charity Commission and the Department. It will make recommendations on changes that can be made to improve the delivery of services and the operation of the regulatory framework going forward.
The NSS's response has highlighted the problem of including "the advancement of religion" in the list of charitable purposes in law, as it enables religious organisations that provide no tangible public benefit, and sometimes those that cause harm, to register as charities. It highlights concerns regarding Core Issues Trust, which promotes 'change orientated therapy' for gay people, and the difficulties the Charity Commission appears to face in challenging this charity.
The government seeks views to help inform the development of the government's Women's Health Strategy, as there is "strong evidence" of the need for greater focus on women's health and to recognise and act on the inequalities.
Our submission highlighted the barriers faced by women in conservative, insular religious communities to accessing information about healthcare, and their vulnerability to violent abuse. We also called for better relationships and sex education in all schools for all pupils and better protection for women's reproductive rights.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency are consulting on the potential reclassification of desogestrel (the 'mini pill') to a pharmacy medicine. This means it could be sold without prescription.
The NSS has responded saying that making desogestrel available as a Pharmacy medicine would significantly increase women's reproductive health choices and ease of access to effective contraception, leading to fewer unwanted pregnancies.
The response below refers to desogestrel product Hana; we also submitted an identical response with regards to the other desogestrel product Lovima.