AS we marked the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on International Human Rights Day on Sunday, I couldn’t help but reflect on the stark difference between Scotland’s commitment to human rights and the recent unsettling trends from the UK Government.

Human rights are the bedrock of a civilised society and ensure dignity, freedom from discrimination, oppression and equality for all – principles I have seen Scotland wholeheartedly embrace time and time again.

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In Scotland, we’ve made commendable strides and continue to do so. Our legislative efforts, such as the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, the incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scots law and the proposed new Human Rights Bill signify our dedication to protecting the rights and dignities of every individual.

As a member of the Equalities Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee at Holyrood, I have heard first-hand how some of these laws could profoundly impact real lives, offering protection and recognition to those who have long been marginalised.

However, our progress faces significant obstacles, primarily stemming from the UK Government’s recent actions. The aggressive politicisation of human rights by the UK Government, as highlighted by Human Rights Watch’s UK director, Yasmine Ahmed, is deeply concerning.

The Government’s inclination to “disapply” the Human Rights Act in favour of policies such as the controversial Rwanda asylum plan illustrates a disturbing trend toward undermining established human rights protections.

It is important we are aware that this approach is more than political manoeuvring – it’s an alarming shift towards authoritarianism, where rights and laws are selectively upheld based on political convenience.

Such actions not only undermine the judiciary’s integrity but also erode the foundational principles of human rights, potentially causing irreparable damage to the democratic fabric of not just Scotland but all four nations of the UK.

Contrasting this, Scotland’s human rights journey, though challenging, is marked by inclusivity and progress. The Scottish Parliament’s unanimous vote last week to incorporate the UNCRC into domestic law was a landmark achievement, demonstrating our commitment to upholding international human rights standards.

Yet this achievement was overshadowed by the UK Government’s challenge, which led to the Court of Session ruling that necessitated amendments to the bill, limiting its scope within devolved powers.

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Make no mistake, the UK Government chose to do this rather than allow the rights for our children be progressed. There was no legal imperative for them to force this through the courts, and this is just another example of power-playing ideology rather than sensible and reasonable politics. What did they have to fear? Being held to account for damaging policies created by them which would infringe on Scotland’s children’s rights perhaps?

The UK Government’s decision to use a Section 35 order to block the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform Bill further underscores their disregard for Scotland’s democratic processes. This unilateral move not only disrespects the will of the Scottish people but also impedes our efforts to create a more equal and understanding society.

They used the lives of our trans citizens to cultivate a blistering and bruising culture war. Harming those who are already at a disadvantage. We are behind many other countries in trans rights. The fear stoked was reprehensible and we will see the lasting effects for years to come. All for some cheap votes to bolster a government falling apart due to their own ineptitude and chaos.

The UK Government’s actions starkly contrast with Scotland’s vision of a society that respects and protects human rights. We, in Scotland, believe in a society where laws reflect our collective values and aspirations. Our legislative processes are not just about imposing laws but about crafting them from the genuine needs of our people.

When we see a UK Government creating these wedge issues and culture wars against refugees, asylum seekers and trans people, you must ask where is the humanity? Look at these people’s lives, you will see and hear stories of adversity and battles just to exist. They certainly are not to blame for society’s ills.

As we navigate these challenges, the case for Scottish independence grows stronger. Independence is not merely a political aspiration but a necessary pathway to safeguarding our fundamental rights and freedoms. It represents the power to enact laws that embody our ethos, protect the rights of our citizens, and build a society that truly represents the aspirations of its people.

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The contrast between Scotland’s and the UK Government’s approach to human rights couldn’t be more pronounced. While Scotland endeavours to embed international human rights within domestic law and drive positive, transformative change, the UK Government seems intent on regressing on hard-won freedoms. Their approach not only undermines our ability to hold human rights violators to account internationally but also threatens the very essence of what a modern, inclusive nation stands for.

In Scotland, we understand that human rights are about people, their dignity, their well-being, and their ability to live fulfilling lives. Our commitment to incorporating international human rights treaties and recognising the right to a healthy environment is a testament to our dedication to building a better society for all.

As we acknowledge International Human Rights Day, let’s reaffirm our commitment to a Scotland where human rights are not just legal tenets but lived experiences. We stand at a pivotal moment, where our actions today will shape the future of human rights in Scotland. It’s a future where every individual, regardless of their status, is treated with dignity and respect – a stark contrast to the path the UK Government seems determined to tread.

The significance of human rights in shaping a society that values equality, freedom, and justice can’t be understated.

As we honour those who fought for these rights, let’s renew our resolve to create a Scotland that leads with humanity and empathy, standing as a beacon of hope and progress in a world where such values are increasingly under threat.

Our commitment to human rights is unwavering, and with independence, we can ensure that these rights are not just protected but flourish for generations to come.