At Stonewall Scotland, we love human rights. And we think the Human Rights Act is a pretty important document that has underpinned a lot of the work we’ve all achieved for LGBT equality. Join us in telling the world why you love Human Rights…
Our right to live and work freely
Whether it’s going to work, serving in the military, staying in a hotel or accessing healthcare, human rights legislation helps to protect us from discrimination and poor treatment when using services and when working. If this is denied, we can seek justice.
Our right to love
LGBT people can start a family, get married and share their lives with the people they love just like anyone else. Human rights legislation protects our right to family life and it means the state can’t discriminate in the way people enjoy these rights.
Our right to be who we are
Human rights legislation paved the way for the Gender Recognition Act, providing rights for trans people in this country. Whilst certainly not perfect, it has made it that little bit easier to be ourselves.
Our right to be safe
LGBT people should be able to walk down the street without fear of abuse, hate or violence. We should be free to hold our partner’s hand without fear and be free from bullying at work and at school.
Our right to make sure everyone, everywhere is accepted without exception
We’ve come a long way in the UK on legal protections for LGBT people. But in 76 countries around the world being gay is illegal and 10 of those carry the death penalty. Each year, one in twenty trans people in Europe experience a violent hate crime. In the UK, we can enjoy our rights because of human rights legislation, and this sends a clear signal to the rest of the world that we measure ourselves by the same standards that we expect others to measure themselves against.
About the Human Rights Act
What is the Human Rights Act?
The Human Rights Act is a piece of UK legislation that protects our human rights. It was passed in 1998 with the intention of ensuring that our rights are incorporated into the heart of UK law. This means you are entitled to defend your rights in the UK courts and that all public organisations and institutions have an obligation to respect everyone’s human rights.
In the years that followed the Second World War, an international treaty now called the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was formed to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. The Human Rights Act incorporates most of the rights in the ECHR and puts them at the heart of UK policy and law making process.
While the ECHR sets out a range of entitlements, it’s the Human Rights Act that puts them into action in the UK.
Why is it so important?
Human rights are for everyone and the Act protects those rights from being abused like when you go to the doctors, use social care or other public services. It’s a vital tool to make sure that every person in the UK – regardless of sexual orientation, age, gender, gender identity, religion or belief, ethnicity, marital status or disability status – has their rights protected and respected. It gives us the right to stand up and be heard, and to make challenges when our human rights are threatened. As humans we all have rights, and the Act protects ALL OF US.
Many of us are fortunate enough to have never had to worry about our rights being abused. But for LGBT people who’ve wanted to start a family, to be recognised as who they are, to serve in the military or to access housing the Act has helped protect them.
The Act is also important because it means public bodies in the UK must take our rights into account when making decisions about things like housing, healthcare, schooling and other areas that impact our day to day lives. If they don’t, we can use the Act to challenge them.
The Act has enabled some pretty amazing things to happen for LGBT equality over the last 15 years and it means we in the UK can hold other countries to the standards we measure ourselves by, so that everyone, everywhere can be accepted without exception before the law.
1997 - Ruling supporting the introduction of an equal age of consent
2000 - Ruling that LGB people should be able to serve openly in the military
2002 - Ruling supporting legal gender recognition for trans people
2004 - Ruling giving same-sex couples equal tenancy rights
What about Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?
The Act also is a part of the devolution settlement in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; any changes will have an impact in all three nations and will need to be agreed with the devolved parliaments and assemblies.
How can I learn more?
Take a look at some of the links below to learn more about the Act and how it protects all of us:
How can I help?
The Government has announced their plans to bring forward proposals for a new British Bill of Rights which they believe should replace the Human Rights Act.
Updates will appear here when a consultation is launched, with accompanying information on how you can join us in taking part.