We are pleased to announce that the recently-adopted equality statement of the Labour Party will now cover non-religious people (including atheists and humanists), having previously only referred to ‘religion’.
Last month Labour’s policy making body – the National Policy Forum (NPF) – agreed an overarching equality statement as a commitment to the way it will implement policies and its manifesto. However, the equality statement appeared not to cover non-religious people and therefore Labour Humanists took action to campaign for the statement to be amended as a matter of urgency.
While we supported the otherwise excellent statement, we made clear to representatives from all major groups in the Labour party that if the statement went ahead as it was written, it would create serious inequalities between religious and non-religious people and could have profound implications for the status of humanists and other non-religious people within and outside of Labour.
Our concern went to Labour’s Joint Policy Committee (JPC), the senior body which has strategic oversight of policy development in the party. JPC officers have agreed a change to the statement to replace ‘religion’ with the term ‘religion or belief’, which includes non-religious people. The revised wording will be published in the equality statement and will be available at, if not before, Labour’s annual conference in September.
We would like to thank Labour Party Chair and Labour Humanists’ Patron Angela Eagle MP for overseeing this process, and to the many members of the National Policy Forum who contacted us to support this important change.
The equality statement had stated ‘religion’ but omitted ‘or belief’. This went against the letter of the Equality Act 2010 and human rights law, which use the term ‘religion or belief’ to cover both non-religious and religious people. In practice, just using ‘religion’ specifically does not cover humanists or any other person with philosophical beliefs which are not religious.
The revised equality statement:
Labour is the Party of equality. We believe that no person should suffer discrimination or a lack of opportunity because of their gender, gender identity, age, disability, race, religion or belief, socio-economic status or sexual orientation. In government, every decision we take will be taken with that in mind. We will ensure the policies across these eight documents and in our manifesto will be implemented ensuring that they further rather than hinder this cause.
Labour has always led the fight for equality, but our fight is not yet won. We will not rest until everyone can live their lives free from hatred, fear and oppression. In government we will work to remove the structural and social barriers that stand in our way.
For further information contact Naomi Phillips, Chair of Labour Humanists.