Senedd Election Manifestos on Religion and Belief

The Wales Humanists have outlined seven priorities ahead of the Welsh Senedd elections next month:

1. Inclusive school assemblies to replace collective worship in schools

2. High quality, mandatory and comprehensive relationships and sexual education in all schools

3. Fully inclusive school admissions with no discrimination on grounds of religion

4. Non-religious chaplaincy to have same status and support as religious chaplaincy

5. Humanists to have membership of the Faith Communities Forum or fair and equal access to the First Minister and ministerial meetings

6. Advocation of legal recognition of humanist marriages (not a devolved matter so advocacy sought)

7. Opposition against any moves by Westminster Government to weaken human rights legislation

In light of these seven points, this post will look at what the various Party Manifestos say about religion or belief issues. (The following will ignore the second point given that mandatory teaching on this is already guaranteed under the new curriculum).

Labour

As far as I can see, there’s no mention of these priorities in the Labour manifesto – the only reference is to collaborating with faith and community groups.

There is lot on other grounds of discrimination, however, including taking forward the Race Equality Action Plan and teaching history and culture of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities in schools (though it’s unclear whether that would need any change to the new curriculum. During the passage of the Bill, the Government argued that this was already mandatory and did not need to be spelled out in legislation).

There is also a pledge to consider devolution of justice. Also of interest are pledges for research into a ‘Human Rights Act for Wales’ and the development of ‘Codes of Welsh law, making it easier for people to access and understand their legal rights’ on housing, social care, public health, and schools.

Conservative

The Conservative manifesto also doesn’t seem to mention the points raised by the Humanists but does state aim to ‘remove division and promote diversity regardless of race, gender, language, religion or sexual orientation’.

It also states that they would ‘adopt a zero tolerance culture across Welsh Government to ensure no discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, language, religion or disability’.

Further, they would would ‘work with faith communities and other stakeholders to address anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other religious hate crime’. They would also ‘work with Race Alliance Wales other stakeholders to develop a Strategic Race Equality Plan’.

Plaid Cymru

The Plaid Cymru manifesto also does not mention these issues but does have some provisions on religion and belief including
‘supporting employers to recognise and take account of religious festivals and religious observance in the workplace’. It would be interesting to know what is envisaged by this.

It recognises ‘that racial, ethnic
and religious intolerance is systemic and institutional. We are committed to combating Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-migrant sentiment, anti-Gypsy and Roma Traveller sentiment, and all forms of racism and bigotry in politics, our party on our streets, online and in our media.’

There is a pledge to implement the race equality action plan and press for full devolution of the criminal justice system. It supports ‘the creation of a distinct legal jurisdiction in Wales’. It further states that the ‘Welsh state will enshrine the basic rights of its citizens in a written charter of citizens’ rights and responsibilities,’ and a statutory National Commission will be tasked with drafting a constitution for an independent Wales’.

It also pledges that: ‘The history and stories of Wales in all their diversity, including the histories of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic People, will become a mandatory part of the curriculum, enshrined in law.’ (This was the point on which the party did not support the new curriculum Bill).

Conclusion

In sum, it appears that the seven priorities of are not reflected in the manifestos, which tend to focus on other equalities other than religion or belief and where the focus is on religion or belief them it focuses on religions rather than belief.

Please note: There are other parties standing for the Senedd elections 2021 and this thread is based upon a skim of and search through manifestos of the parties discussed.

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