The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in the UK

http://www.humantruth.info/uk_human_rights_and_freedom.html

By Vexen Crabtree 2019

#equality #eu #freedom #human_rights #politics #tolerance #UK

UK
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index15th best
LocationEurope
Population67.1m1
Life Expectancy80.74yrs (2017)2

When it comes to ensuring human rights and freedom, The UK leads the world, setting excellent examples. The UK performs the best when it comes to commentary in Human Rights Watch reports3. It comes in the best 20 for supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms4, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice5 (one of the lowest in Europe), LGBT equality6 and in the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators)7. And finally, it does better than average in opposing gender inequality8, supporting press freedom9, speed of uptake of HR treaties10, its nominal commitment to Human Rights11 (but low for Europe) and in freethought12 (but bad for Europe). There are "significant concerns" for the protections of Brits living abroad, and for long-term EU nationals living in the UK13, as popularist rhetoric surrounding a "no deal" Brexit would result in loss of access to pensions and elements of justice and welfare services for up to 10 million Brits throughout the EU14.


1. UK's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #gender_equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Compared to Europe (2020)15
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank15
1Sweden9.2
2Norway14.7
3Denmark14.7
...
9France24.8
10Germany24.9
11Belgium26.1
12UK26.8
13Spain28.3
14Slovenia33.3
15Italy37.3
16Czechia37.9
17Ireland38.5
Europe Avg50.3
q=49.
Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)15
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank15
1Sweden9.2
2Norway14.7
3Denmark14.7
...
14Germany24.9
15Belgium26.1
16Uruguay26.7
17UK26.8
18Taiwan28.2
19Spain28.3
20Slovenia33.3
21Costa Rica36.7
World Avg87.7
q=199.

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Sweden, Norway and Denmark16. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are The Solomon Islands, Somalia and Tuvalu16.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators), the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice, LGBT equality and freethought. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe16, whereas the worst are Melanesia, Micronesia and Australasia16.

For more, see:

Amnesty International's 2023-23 summary on human rights in UK stated:

Legislation was passed or tabled that seriously undermined human rights, including replacing the UK‚€ôs primary human rights protection instrument and attacks on the rights to freedom of assembly and expression and to asylum. Further proposals were launched that would provide impunity for grave human rights violations. Effective access to sexual and reproductive support remained inconsistent across the UK.

"The State of the World's Human Rights 2022/23" by Amnesty International (2023)17

The EU has acted on behalf of its member states on many occasions to support, foster, fund and encourage human rights protections in every region of the world, with agreement of its member states through the European Parliament. The protections of workers' rights and their harmonisations (which stops companies moving staff to countries with the weakest laws) has had great effect in stopping workforce abuse18. According to Human Rights Watch's comprehensive review for the year 2017, in addition to vocal and public pronouncements on poor human rights records of many countries, the EU has also acted through economic sanctions, political pressure and used other means to incentivize the adoption of human rights protections, even if these measures harm EU trading19. It is to the UK's credit that it supports the EU in these actions.

2. Human Rights & Tolerance Data Sets

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments

#human_rights

Human Rights Watch Comments
Higher is better3
Pos.2017
Score3
1UK9
2France9
3Germany9
4Canada8
5Netherlands8
6Sweden7
7Ireland7
8Finland6
9Luxembourg6
10Belgium6
11Greece5
12Cyprus5
Europe Avg3.5
World Avg-1.9
q=123.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR

#human_rights

Nominal Commitment to HR
Higher is better11
Pos.2009
Treaties11
1Argentina24
2Chile23
3Costa Rica23
...
51Uganda19
52Colombia19
53Switzerland19
54UK19
55Venezuela19
56Lesotho19
57Rwanda19
58Finland19
Europe Avg19.5
World Avg15.1
q=194.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag
Lower is better10
Pos.2019
Avg Yrs/Treaty10
1Ecuador2.15
2Uruguay2.25
3Tunisia3.65
...
36Venezuela6.51
37Italy6.56
38Russia6.58
39UK6.62
40Portugal6.69
41Bolivia6.70
42El Salvador6.80
43Rwanda6.83
Europe Avg9.09
World Avg10.02
q=195.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

For more, see:

2.4. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom
Lower is better4
Pos.2014
Rank4
1Hong Kong1
2Switzerland2
3New Zealand3
4Ireland4
5Denmark5
6UK6
7Canada6
8Australia6
9Finland9
10Netherlands10
11Luxembourg11
12Austria11
Europe Avg33.9
World Avg79.7
q=159.

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)20

2.5. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #Freedom_of_Speech #Good_Governance #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom
Lower is better9
Pos.20139
1Finland638
2Netherlands648
3Norway652
...
26Australia1524
27Uruguay1592
28Portugal1675
29UK1689
30Ghana1727
31Suriname1819
32USA1822
33Lithuania1824
Europe Avg2044
World Avg3249
q=178.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world, and is linked with Freedom of Speech and Good Governance. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted". The rankings are used as one of the datasets of the Social and Moral Development Index21

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

2.6. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Slavery
Lower is better
22
Pos.2018
% Victims22
1Japan0.03
2Canada0.05
3Taiwan0.05
...
37Oman0.21
38Panama0.21
39Sri Lanka0.21
40UK0.21
41Tunisia0.22
42Slovenia0.22
43Suriname0.23
44Spain0.23
Europe Avg0.38
World Avg0.65
q=167.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory23. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends24. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life25. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves26.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery27. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity28. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.29. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi30, Eritrea30, Indonesia31) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery32.

For more, see:

3. Gender Equality Data Sets

The UK is on the way towards ending gender inequality.

Strong religious (Christian) mores in Northern Ireland continue to be the cause behind immoral restrictions on access to abortion services, so in 2017 the UK health minister "announced that women and girls from the region who travel to access abortion services in England each year would no longer have to pay to do so"13.

See:

3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality
Lower is better
8
Pos.20158
1Switzerland0.04
2Denmark0.04
3Netherlands0.04
...
25Lithuania0.12
26Ireland0.13
27Czechia0.13
28UK0.13
29Estonia0.13
30Poland0.14
31Croatia0.14
32Belarus0.14
Europe Avg0.15
World Avg0.36
q=159.

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchalism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

For more, see:

3.2. Gender Biases

#gender #gender_equality #prejudice #women

Gender Biases
Lower is better
7
Pos.2022
%7
1Sweden31.833
2New Zealand34.434
3Australia37.034
...
11Spain53.533
12Switzerland56.935
13France57.235
14UK57.735
15Slovenia61.133
16Japan63.434
17Italy64.435
18Greece64.934
Europe Avg69.08
World Avg83.93
q=88.

The Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) looks at gender biases across seven criteria; the % given here is for the total people who are biased across any of those criteria. By subtracting the value from 100%, you can see that those who do well on this index, you are seeing a count of those who do not appear to be biased against women in any of the criteria, and so, doing well on this index is a very positive sign for any country.

The data was included in UN (2022) with full results in Annex table AS6.7.1; their data stems for ranges between 2005 and 2022, depending on the country in question.

3.3. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Lower is better
Pos.0
Year
1New Zealand1893
2Australia1902
3Finland1906
...
30Mongolia1924
31St Lucia1924
32Turkmenistan1927
33UK1928
34S. Africa1930
35Sri Lanka1931
36Spain1931
37Maldives1932
Europe Avg1895
World Avg1930
q=189.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

For more, see:

4. Prejudice Data Sets

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions
Lower is better
5
Pos.2014
%5
1Laos0
2Philippines3
3Sweden4
4Netherlands5
5Vietnam6
6UK8
7Denmark9
8USA9
9Tanzania12
10Thailand13
11Czechia13
12Canada14
Europe Avg29.9
World Avg36.8
q=101.

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews36,37,38,39. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East40, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews41,42. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"43. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males44.

For more, see:

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

Scotland overwhelmingly voted to legalize same-sex marriage in 2014, although "the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church - oppose same-sex marriage and lobbied against the bill", clearly believing that those who disagree ought to be forced to comply with discriminatory Church policy, even against their will45.

England and Wales legalized same-sex marriage in 201345 "however, the law prohibits same-sex weddings within the Church of England, which continues to define marriage as between one man and one woman" (as of 2017)45.

The British Social Attitudes Survey shows that views of homosexuality started out tough and hardened in the mid-1980s - the period of the AIDS panic. Since then they have softened (see chart). The young are more liberal than their parents. [...]

Some pupils at Catholic schools in Lancashire recently received a sex-education pamphlet entitled Pure Manhood: How to become the man God wants you to be. This offers such pearls as safe sex is a joke and the homosexual act is disordered, much like contraceptive sex between heterosexuals.

"Homophobia: It's getting better" (2012)46

LGBT Equality
Higher is better
6
Pos.2017
Score6
1Netherlands103
2Belgium90
3Sweden86
...
9Norway72
10Denmark72
11Iceland72
12UK72
13Mexico70
14Luxembourg70
15Argentina69
16Malta63
Europe Avg46.9
World Avg12.6
q=196.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence47. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws48. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries47. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

For more, see:

4.3. Freedom of Thought

#europe #freedom_of_belief #freethought #human_rights #netherlands #religion #religious_tolerance #secularism #the_enlightenment

Freedom of Thought
Lower is better
12
Pos.202112
1Belgium1.0
2Netherlands1.0
3Taiwan1.0
...
80Monaco2.8
81Mauritius2.8
82Portugal2.8
83UK2.8
84Argentina2.8
85Slovakia2.8
86Venezuela2.8
87Canada2.8
Europe Avg2.6
World Avg3.0
q=196.

Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Belief are upheld in Article 18 the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights49. It affirms that it is a basic human right that all people are free to change their beliefs and religion as they wish50. No countries voted against this (although eight abstained). This right was first recognized clearly in the policies of religious toleration of the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe in the post-enlightenment era51 of the 19th century. In democratic countries, freedom of belief and religion is now taken for granted52. In 2016 a study found that over 180 countries in the world had come to guarantee freedom of religion and belief53. The best countries at doing so are Taiwan, Belgium and The Netherlands12,54 and the worst: Afghanistan, N. Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia12,55.

Long-term studies have shown that religious violence and persecution both decrease in cultures where religious freedom is guaranteed56. Despite this, there still are many who are strongly against freedom of belief50, including entire cultures and many individual communities of religious believers. Their alternative is that you are not free to believe what you want and they often state that you cannot change religion without being punished (often including the death penalty): this is bemoaned as one of the most dangerous elements of religion57 and "the denial of religious freedoms is inevitably intertwined with the denial of other freedoms"58 and the solution is, everywhere, to allow religious freedom and the freedom of belief.

For more, see:

5. Freedom of Belief and Religion

#religion_in_UK #UK