By Michael De Dora and Nicholas Little
Violations of human rights — through the denial of freedom of conscience, oppression of women, and discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities — occur with depressing frequency throughout the world. Here at the Center for Inquiry, we recognize that some of these global issues cannot be solved in the short term by a single organization with finite powers and means. But, through our international advocacy, we strive to have the greatest impact possible. We are particularly proud of our Freethought Emergency Fund, which raises money to help move Bangladeshi secularist writers and publishers to safety away from threats of murder by Islamic extremists, and has been tremendously successful.
Threats to fundamental human rights can take horrific and immediate forms, such as the campaigns of terror and murder by groups such as Boko Haram and ISIS. At the same time, human rights are also challenged, and often entirely erased, in ways that do not necessarily make the top of the evening news — and yet require a passionate and persistent response, and demand our fullest attention and energy. Such issues include, but are not limited to, the following:
• The requirement that doctors who perform abortions in Texas maintain active admitting procedures with hospitals within 30 miles of the place where they perform abortions;
• Ongoing efforts to defund or else completely shut down organizations which offer family planning services, such as Planned Parenthood;
• The enactment and provision of school vouchers that siphon taxpayer money from public schools to unaccountable religious schools which often indoctrinate children with sectarian religious and anti-scientific views;
• Children not receiving safe and necessary medical vaccinations because of their parents’ religious beliefs;
• For-profit and non-profit organizations which claim a religious identify being permitted to refuse to provide their employees insurance for contraceptives;
• Legal employment discrimination against transgender individuals;
• The denial of marriage rights to people based on their sexual orientation;
• Taxpayer funds being illegally used to fund religious rehabilitation programs;
• Secular celebrants being denied the right to perform marriages on par with religious leaders;
• Homeopaths selling unproven, unsafe products to the public under false pretenses, and without proper labeling;
• The United States tax code privileging religious ministers through tax exemptions unavailable to other employees;
• Religious groups refusing to place children for adoption with lesbian and gay couples;
• Religious theme parks which actively discriminate against prospective employees based on religion being eligible for state funds.
CFI’s Office of Public Policy and its Legal Department are proud to have worked on these issues, and many more, over recent years. We are proud to continue to work on them. You can stay aware of our work by signing up for our advocacy alerts here.