The UK’s new Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief has affirmed the value of every human life in her first speech in the role in Parliament.
Christian MP Fiona Bruce was handed the role in December. In her first speech this year, she said she recognised the scale of the problem of global religious persecution and said she would work closely with people around the world to make a positive impact.
The envoy role was made permanent in 2019, following an independent review for the Government by the Bishop of Truro – Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen – on persecuted Christians.
Protecting human rights
Speaking in the House of Commons this week, Mrs Bruce said: “Sadly, one of the human rights most at risk globally today is that addressed by article 18 of the universal declaration of human rights.
the rights “to education, jobs, homes, family life, access to justice, liberty and even life itself all can be at risk” when freedom of religion or belief is under attack. Fiona Bruce MP
“Protecting and promoting the right to freedom of religion or belief must be one of the UK’s human rights priorities, not least because of the extent of violations of FORB in so many parts of the world today”.
She said tackling religious intolerance “needs to be at the heart of our policies”, because the rights “to education, jobs, homes, family life, access to justice, liberty and even life itself all can be at risk” when freedom of religion or belief is under attack.
Dignity and worth
The new Envoy said it was “a privilege” to take up the role, but added that the title was worthless unless it enabled her to “make a positive difference” in the lives of individual people.
She expressed her belief that this could be the case if others in Parliament, and their international counterparts, work alongside her.
Mrs Bruce continued: “For me, the heart of FORB is based on respecting the unique worth of every created human being. It is about the importance of treating every individual with dignity. It is about saying, ‘You matter. You have purpose. You are significant. Wherever you are in the world, whatever your faith or none, you are not forgotten. You are not disregarded. You are not overlooked.’
“Having travelled to many countries across the world and heard at first hand of FORB abuses, I want to state my heartfelt compassion and respect for all those who bravely make a stand and suffer for their beliefs.”