Banner saying "Immigrant rights are human rights"
Quakers’ have a long history of standing up for human rights from challenging slavery, to conscientious objection, and more recently equal marriage. Quakers believe that "there is that of God in everyone" . At heart, human rights are about treating people decently and we recognise that everyone is important, just because they are human.
The Scottish Government has been working for some time towards a new Human Rights law for Scotland which hopes to enshrine in law, rights which we have lost as a result of withdrawing from the EU. Scottish Friends engaged with this process from the start: our Parliamentary Engagement Officer, set up a workshop and representatives from each area meeting were invited to attend. Sixteen friends attended and after watching a short video about what the proposed legislation was about there was a lively discussion about the advantages and shortcomings of a human rights approach to address citizens’ needs. We agreed that rights are important and spoke about examples where Quakers have fought for rights being established such as the ending of slavery; rights of conscientious objectors; and more recently the recognition of equal marriage. However we also agreed that just having rights is not sufficient; rights need to be underpinned by understanding, accountability and resources for them to be fulfilled.
The wheels turned slowly but in autumn 2023 our new PEO was able to submit a response on our behalf to a consultation on the proposed new Human Rights Bill, which you can see on this page under 'Actions'. As you can see from the questions and responses, there are limits Scotland's legislative remit on rights, but we are watching this ongoing process with interest.
Through our Parliamentary Engagement work, Quakers in Scotland have previously been active in responding to Scottish Government consultation on the incorporation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into domestic law. You can find this submission in Actions.