Scottish Government record on equality under challenge

Tuesday 6 May, the first day of parliamentary business after the May Day Bank Holiday brings major challenges to the Scottish Government’s record on equality.

The petition by ESS Honorary President Norman Bonney to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee to make the Parliament’s weekly ‘Time for Reflection’ (TFR) more representative of the diversity of religion and belief in Scotland will be heard at about 1115am in a session of the Committee in the Robert Burns room, CR1, that commences at 1000am. Bonney argues that TFR is dominated by religious voices and that the moral views of the non-religious half of the population are not heard by MSPs in the only regular session of the Parliament that is earmarked for outsiders to address the whole Parliament.

The SNP majority in the committee has the power to prevent any further investigation and consideration of the issues raised in the petition.

At the same time, beginning 1000am in the Sir Alexander Fleming Room, CR3, on Tuesday 6 May, the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee will consider, among other business, the ESS petition to remove non-elected but voting religious nominees, mostly Church of Scotland and Roman Catholic representatives, from Scottish council education committees. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has suggested that these arrangements do not meet the requirements of the UK Equality Act of 2010 which requires public authorities not to discriminate on religious grounds.

On this Committee, as well, the SNP majority could decide to throw out this petition which is supported by over 1700 signatories.

Control of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government places great responsibility on the majority party. Let us ensure that the SNP gives equality a fair go on Tuesday 6 May!

The views of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which are relevant to both petitions, are to be found at; http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_PublicPetitionsCommittee/General%20Documents/PE1498_G_Equality_Human_Rights_Commission_11.02.14.pdf

The ESS petition can be accessed at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/GettingInvolved/Petitions/petitionPDF/PE01498.pdf

Norman Bonney’s ‘Time for Reflection’ petition can be accessed at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/GettingInvolved/Petitions/equaltimeforreflection 

Late breaking news Coincidentally the Scottish Parliamentary authorities have scheduled at 2pm on the same day a ‘Time for Reflection’ contribution by ESS Board member and Humanist Society Education Officer, Gary McLelland. It will be only the fourth Humanist contribution in fifteen years of about 450 sessions which have been  overwhelmingly and disproportionately dominated by religious speakers.

Tickets for committees can be obtained at https://www.scottish.parliament.uk/visitandlearn/28754.aspx

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