We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Federal Spring Conference - please support our amendments

March 3, 2015 4:04 PM
By Toby Keynes

We have prepared amendments for debate at Federal Conference, covering

  • Discrimination based on religion, belief or caste, and humanist marriage;
  • Freedom of expression, anti-Muslim prejudice and criticism of Islam.

We need at least ten conference representatives to confirm that you support each amendment, by 9am this coming Monday (9th March) at the latest, so that we can submit them before the deadline.

If you are willing to support either or both of these amendments, please email me as soon as possible at toby.keynes@hsld.org.uk, with your:

  • FULL NAME
  • POSTCODE
  • EMAIL ADDRESS
  • LOCAL PARTY NAME
  • PARTY MEMBERSHIP NUMBER (if known)
  • Confirming that you have been elected or appointed as a Federal Conference Representative for 2015
  • Saying whether you support BOTH of the amendments, or stating WHICH one you support
  • If possible, giving a phone number that we can reach you on.

If you'd like to discuss any of the amendments, you should be able to reach me during office hours on 020 8405 9816 or 0784 6396791.

We are, as always, enormously grateful for your support.

The draft texts of the amendments are as follows:

A. DISCRIMINATION BASED ON RELIGION, BELIEF OR CASTE, AND HUMANIST MARRIAGE

F6: Stronger Economy, Fairer Society, Opportunity for Everyone (Conference Agenda, pages 51-53)

In i (line 11), after "gender identity," insert "religion, belief,"

After 2. f (lines 53-34), add:

g) Giving legal recognition to humanist wedding ceremonies.

h) Tackling caste discrimination as a form of race discrimination, under the Equality Act.

BACKGROUND

At the Autumn 2014 Conference, a drafting amendment was made to the Pre-Manifesto motion, inserting "disability, age, religion, belief" into the opening section.

This new Manifesto motion's opening section includes a similar list, but "religion" and "belief" have once again disappeared. This proposed amendment would reinstate them. This part of the motion would then read:

i) Empowering every person to fulfil their own potential, regardless of their background, where necessary taking measures to promote equality and tackle discrimination on the grounds of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, belief, age or disability.

We're hoping that the omission of religion and belief was not intentional, and that this insertion will be accepted as a drafting amendment.

The two additions on humanist weddings and caste discrimination reflect existing party policy, and our submission to the Manifesto Working Group. Both policies are particularly relevant because they are both permitted by recent legislation but neither are being implemented in law, apparently due to Conservative opposition.

B. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, ANTI-MUSLIM PREJUDICE AND CRITICISM OF ISLAM

F18: Freedom of Expression in Europe and Beyond (Conference Agenda, pages 63-66)

In line 8, after "tackling" delete "Islamophobia," and insert "anti-Muslim hate,"

Delete F (lines 25-29) and insert:

"F. There is a difference between hateful words or conduct directed against believers as people and words or conduct that amount merely to sacrilege, blasphemy or apostasy in the eyes of others and that freedom of expression and freedom of belief in a democratic and free society requires blasphemy, sacrilege and apostasy to be unfettered.

In G (line 30), delete "or Islam in particular"

BACKGROUND

This is an important motion from Evan Harris, and we strongly support it as a whole.

We unreservedly condemn words and conduct directed against people because of their beliefs, and our amendment affirms this.

At the same time, our amendment removes a conflict within the motion, which states (lines 17-20) that in a free and open society no belief system or ideology should have any protection from criticism including satire and lampooning and that there is no basis for privileging religion over other forms of belief or ideology.

The amendment is supported by Evan.