/* */ Rosa Rubicondior: Christians Denying Human Rights in Northern Ireland

Friday, 8 June 2018

Christians Denying Human Rights in Northern Ireland

Pro-abortion demonstrators outside Belfast city hall.
Photo credit: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
Northern Ireland abortion law clashes with human rights, judges say | Guardian.

Northern Ireland, that most devout part of the UK where Christianity in its two main flavours - Protestant and Catholic - more so than in any other part of the UK informs legislation, is denying basic human rights for its citizens because religious dogma requires it.

The UK Supreme court today ruled that the law which criminalised abortion in Northern Ireland in almost all circumstances, uniquely so in the UK, is a violation of human rights and is thus itself illegal, being in breach of the Human Rights Act (HRA) which takes precedence over all other laws in the UK.

Following the recent referendum in the Republic of Ireland which mandated the government to repeal the constitutional prohibition on abortion and introduce what amounts to abortion on demand, Northern Ireland will soon be the only part of the island of Ireland where women are denied this basic human right. They were already the only people in the UK to be denied it.

The Supreme Courts ruling came from a case brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC). Although the court rejected the appeal on a technicality, deciding by a narrow majority of four to three, it could only rule on an actual case of denial of human right and thus the appeal was outside their jurisdiction, never-the-less a majority of the judges ruled that had a real case been brought before them they would have ruled in favour because the law in Northern Ireland as it stands is in clear breach of the Human Rights Act.

There is now a clear moral obligation for the UK government to legislate to amend the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act - the Westminster Parliament act which still forbids abortion in Northern Ireland, having been amended in all other parts of the UK.

This ruling marks another step in the replacement of laws based on religious dogma and superstition with those based on secular humanism, where the rights of the individual become paramount and people are no longer required to comply with religious dogma whether or not they agree with it or even follow the particular religion being imposed on them. It marks too a rejection of the notion that morality is a thing determined for us by religions (or more accurately, the men who ran the religions) and not something that people can determine for themselves.

In short, this ruling marks another advance of secular humanism and places the rights of the individual above the right of religious clerics to impose their values and superstitions on us.

It's maybe worth remembering that on Northern Ireland's foundation as a semi-autonomous state within the United Kingdom, it's founding Protestant leader, Sir William Carson, openly declared that it would be "a Protestant state for a Protestant people". The then Stormont government set about creating a virtual theocracy in effect run by the Orange Orders, the Grand Master of which automatically became Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Much of the legislation which still forms the legal framework of Northern Ireland was laid down in those days.

This present denial of human rights to the women of Northern Ireland is a direct result of that virtual theocracy.

Following the ill-judged and botched Tory campaign in the last general election, in which Teresa May lost her majority in the Commons, May is now dependent on the support of ten Northern Ireland DUP MPs, all of whom are fanatically opposed to this extension of human rights to the women of their constituencies. Teresa May is now faced with the difficult choice between the human rights of the women of Northern Ireland and her own assumed right to me PM at Westminster at the cost of continuing to break the Human Rights Act.

As the daughter of an Anglican vicar, it's not hard to work out who's rights are likely to prevail. The human rights of a few million women will not be considered important when weighed in the balance against Theresa May's right to be PM and the Tory Party's right to govern the UK.

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