This week marks 50 years since the 1967 Abortion Act passed – providing free, safe and legal abortions in Britain. But this anniversary reminds us that women in Northern Ireland – where the Act has never applied – have been waiting 50 years for these same rights.
In Northern Ireland there is a near-blanket ban on abortion and women run the risk of life imprisonment.
There is no exception for rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormalities – leading the United Nations to call the ban a human rights violation.
When it comes to the Government respecting and protecting our rights, freedom and equality, this has been a dark year – from the contempt for democracy shown in the Repeal Bill to technologically illiterate attacks on our online privacy and the continued creep of immigration enforcement into every corner of UK life.
But last night Liberty members and supporters came together to honour those who aren’t willing to sit back and accept this vision of our country’s future at our annual Human Rights Awards.
One thing is clear from the widespread allegations currently tearing through Hollywood: sexual harassment and violence is endemic. The brave women who broke through a culture of secrecy and silencing to disclose their experiences of abuse have sparked a global conversation.
Yesterday afternoon the Home Office announced that survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire who have insecure immigration status will be allowed to apply to stay in the UK longer, and eventually for permanent residence – updating their initial paltry offer of a temporary 12-month stay.
You might not be able to see them, but there are border guards everywhere.
Successive governments, determined to appear tough on immigration whatever the human cost, have introduced border controls into our schools, hospitals, workplaces, and even our homes.
So last week’s story that banks will begin quarterly immigration checks on every single account holder in search of undocumented migrants is nothing new. Like so many other discriminatory powers, these rules are part of 2016’s poisonous Immigration Act.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Repeal Bill – a piece of legislation that, in its current form, gives a handful of ministers unprecedented powers to rewrite our laws with no proper scrutiny from Parliament – stumbled over its first parliamentary hurdle.
Officially titled the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, it would let ministers quietly chip away at the many vital rights and equality protections we’ve gained through our EU membership.