Bashh Statement on the UK Government’s Revision of the Statement on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Gender Equality
27th July 2022
BASHH STATEMENT ON THE UK GOVERNMENT’S REVISION OF THE STATEMENT ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF AND GENDER EQUALITY
It is with grave concern that BASHH observes the removal of references to ‘sexual and reproductive health rights’ and to ‘bodily autonomy’ from the UK Government’s Statement on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Gender Equality.
The revision of the statement by the UK Government marks a regressive change in relation to the advancement of the rights of women and girls. Bodily autonomy and the protection of sexual and reproductive health rights are essential aspects of human rights and crucial to the pursuit of gender equality.
BASHH also notes with concern the reduced number of signatories to the revised Statement and the undermining of international consensus and collaboration that has arisen from the recent changes to the Statement. The signatories to the Statement have reduced from 22 countries to just six and the revised Statement has drawn support from Malta, a country that imposes an absolute ban on abortion. These changes underline the significant shift in emphasis within the revised Statement.
BASHH urges the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to reverse these changes and reinstate wording within the Statement that recognises the bodily autonomy of women and girls and the right to sexual and reproductive health, as a matter of priority.
Dr Claire Dewsnap