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Boris Johnson condemned for appointing evangelical anti-LGBT+ MP as religious freedom envoy

Emma Powys Maurice December 21, 2020
Fiona Bruce MP

Fiona Bruce MP will be the new special envoy for freedom of religion and belief (Wikimedia Commons)

Boris Johnson has sparked serious concern with the appointment of Fiona Bruce MP as his new envoy for freedom of religion and belief.

It was announced on Sunday (20 December) that Bruce, a staunch Christian and member of the Evangelical Alliance, will work on behalf of the government to promote the UK’s stance on “religious freedom” abroad, triggering concerns regarding her record on LGBT+ and women’s rights.

The prime minister was “delighted” to appoint Bruce as “a passionate advocate for tolerance and freedom”. But the move was strongly condemned by the leading human rights charity Humanists UK, which highlighted her many efforts against the rights of the non-religious.

“Fiona has been a committed opponent of [freedom of belief] for the non-religious at home – for many years, the most committed and active opponent in parliament – as well as a strong opponent of the human rights of women and the human rights of LGBT+ people,” the charity said in a statement.

It expressed “alarm and disappointment” that someone with her record would be appointed to such a role, highlighting her support of motions to block the teaching of non-religious worldviews in schools, make religious worship compulsory, and allow doctors to opt-out of abortions.

In addition to being the “most prominent and active opponent of abortion” of all MPs, Humanists UK said, her voting record indicates that she has consistently opposed LGBT+ rights throughout her ten years as MP for Congleton.

At every vote available to her she battled against same-sex marriage in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, including for armed forces personnel outside the UK.

And in 2016 she sat on an advisory panel and spoke on behalf of a report that called for UK law to accommodate employees’ religious rights – even if it results in discrimination against LGBT+ people.

Humanists UK chief executive Andrew Copson said: “We are not alarmed by Fiona Bruce’s appointment because we hold any personal animus against her, but because her record both shows her to be an opponent of freedom of belief for the non-religious, and as someone who does not treat freedom of religion or belief as one of a family of human rights that are universal, indivisible, and interrelated.

“Her actions and convictions are perfectly legitimate in a free country but they are incompatible with the UK’s stated commitments on FoRB.”

The charity has written to Boris Johnson and foreign secretary Dominic Raab to convey its concerns regarding “the harm that this appointment will do” to freedom of religion and belief, both at home and abroad.

PinkNews has contacted Fiona Bruce MP and Downing Street for comment.

More: Boris Johnson, Fiona Bruce MP, freedom of religion, humanists UK, Special envoy

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