We want to be able to speak freely and have secular governments. The aim of the Free Speech and Secular Society is to raise awareness about and promote as well as defend both free speech and secularism.
Freedom of speech and a secular state are among the non-negotiable features of a modern society and are crucial for human progress. We want the separation of church and state as expressed in the political principle ‘reason not revelation’. However, Secularism is not atheism, we welcome religious people that are secularist and share the belief that religion should be legislated out of public life and back to the private domain. We believe that the United Kingdom, as a secular nation that prides itself on commitment to women’s rights, should not be allowing a parallel legal system that is based on religious jurisprudence and that discriminates against women in regards to marriage, divorce, child custody, inheritance, and so much more. Likewise, rationality is the cornerstone of modern secular legal systems and thus there should be no room for arbitrary pronouncements of theological origin within the court room. We will also campaign against religious practices and privileges that run against the lawful rights of others.
With freedom of thought comes freedom of speech and expression. Freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental human right enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The general spirit of Article 10 was set out by the European Court of Justice when it stated “Freedom of expression…is applicable not only to ‘information’ or ‘ideas’ that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population”. Without freedom of speech citizens are unable to criticize their governments, to improve their political standards and to find alternatives.
While no right is absolute and there are legitimate reasons, namely preventing the infringement of other rights, to restrict it, a clear and direct harm needs to be demonstrated for this to be the case.
We defend freedom of speech, especially when it comes to the individual’s right to challenge sacred beliefs or to blaspheme holy figures. We will campaign against any attempt to criminalise criticism of religion. We believe that hate speech should not be criminalised although challenged and discouraged.