Responsibilities & Rights

Page updates:

Major revision January 1990
Last amendment April 2016

 

Background

RR100 Rights as currently interpreted, and especially human rights, are based on the individual and on the liberal tradition, which gained acceptability with the European Renaissance. Rights are viewed largely in terms of freedom of action. Such emphasis on rights independent of responsibilities can provide apparent justification for actions which challenge both sustainability and equity.

RR101 This approach gave rise to legal interpretations through such statements as the United Nations Charter of Human Rights. But there are difficulties with the liberal/ individualistic approach, both practical and fundamental: it has failed to give equitable access to the world's resources and to reduce oppression, exploitation and alienation world-wide.

RR102 Under this approach those individuals and groups with the most power claim their rights, and those with less power find their rights denied. Thus the collective rights of minority groups, life support systems, and habitats tend to suffer.

RR103 In a world of increasing human population, and with the technological power available to humankind ever greater, there is a need for a new understanding of humankind's responsibility, not only for each other, but also for the life support systems.

RR104 Other living creatures, the earth's resources, and the biosphere must be protected from the irresponsible use of the powers which people, as individuals and as groups, have at their disposal. Thus the exercise of informed responsibility becomes as necessary a part of the use of humankind's individual and collective powers as the enjoyment of rights.

Principles

RR200 A Green view of rights acknowledges the interconnectedness of all things, the finiteness of resources and the ethical imperative in politics. It therefore sees human responsibilities, not as a counterbalance to individual and collective rights, but as integral with them.

RR201 Accepting interconnectedness means that individuals and groups share rights to equitable status, treatment and freedoms not only with other people, but also with life support systems and other species, in the present and in the future.

RR202 Accepting the universal dimension to the concept of human rights requires recognition of the cultural dimension, in that different cultures do not always share the same view of what constitutes a good life. But the Green concept of responsibilities as an integral part of rights transcends such possibly conflicting views. It is everyone's responsibility to allow space for differing value systems, while ensuring that their own concept of rights does not curtail recognition of their responsibilities towards all humankind and the life support system.

RR203 In a world where resources are finite, whether they be spatial, physical or biological, there can be no absolute right either to a particular level of resources or to act in a way which denies equitable rights to others or to the life support system. In any cases of doubt, then the precautionary principle must apply.

RR204 It is humankind's responsibility to carry out only activities that enhance or maintain the quality, variety, diversity, integrity and wholesomeness of human society and the life support system. Those activities which are exploitative, or threaten either the well-being of others, society, the life support system or the future must be avoided.

RR205 People thus have both the right and the responsibility to pursue such personal fulfilment as will enable them to function both as individuals and as fully responsible and integrated parts of society and the life support system.

RR206 While seeking to maintain a sustainable life support system, people have responsibility for respecting each other's physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and social needs, within the natural constraints of society and the life support system.

RR207 While seeking to maintain equity in meeting people's needs, people have responsibility for ensuring the absence of discrimination in ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion or other opinion, age, national or social origin, economic status or any other social, physical or mental condition.

Aims

RR300 To facilitate the development of human societies in which people can enjoy the exercise of their individual and collective rights responsibly while

RR301 To promote development of responsibility, and the acceptance of rights both by individuals and by society collectively, for all members of the human society and for all aspects of the life support system.

RR302 To refine, define and implement policies which aim to be effective in encouraging positive and discouraging negative types of activity within our current understanding of interconnectedness, the finiteness of resources, and humankind's capacity for damage of each other and the life support system.

Human Rights and Civil Liberties.

RR400 The Green Party is committed to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.

RR401 The Green Party supports the Human Rights Act and the continued direct access to Convention rights in the domestic courts, saving claimants the expense and difficulty of taking their cases to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. 

RR402 Where domestic remedies are exhausted, the Green Party fully supports the right of appeal to, and the primacy of, the European Court of Human Rights in Srasbourg.

RR403 In addition to the rights expressed in the Human Rights Act, the Green Party supports a right to trial by jury for any offence resulting in a sentence of six months or greater.

RR404 In addition to the rights expressed in the Human Rights Act, the Green Party supports a right to refuse to kill and to conscientious objection to military service.

RR405 The Green Party will seek the incorporation into law of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

Community Rights

RR406 The Green Party supports communities to put in place their own local constitutions, or Community Bills of Rights. The Green Party recognises:

  • the right to local self government
  • the rights of nature to exist and to flourish, and
  • the community’s right to place legal limitations on corporate legal privileges, including the right to declare a company’s actions unlawful and prohibited, where that company proposes to carry out an activity in the community which would violate that community’s rights.

Access to Justice 

RR410 The Green Party believes fair, equal and prompt access to justice is essential to a civilized society. 

RR411 The Green Party supports a right to legal representation and advice and would provide support for law centres and other institutions offering free legal advice.

RR412 Access to justice should not depend on a person's financial situation. Where a person would not otherwise be able to access it, the state should, through a comprehensive system of legal aid, enable access to appropriate legal advice and/or representation.

RR413 The Green Party recognises the importance of challenges to administrative decisions, and is committed to the provision of funding to enable representation for disputes concerning housing, the police and in bringing benefits challenges.

Legal Status at Birth

RR420 The Green Party believes that the term "illegitimate" as applied to a child outside wedlock is wholly abhorrent and that all stigma and loss of privilege and rights that accompany this term be ended.

Sexual orientation

RR500 Attempts to enforce heterosexuality are as much a violation of human rights as racism and sexism, and must be challenged with equal determination.

RR501 The age of consent should be the same for everyone irrespective of their sexual orientation. It should be 16 years of age.

RR502 Young people have the right to be brought up to understand that they may experience homosexual or heterosexual feelings or both, and that either or both are to be welcomed as having potential to enrich their lives and those of the people around them.

RR503 Sexual orientation shall not affect the decision whether or not to employ, promote or discharge any individual. When assessing a person's work, their sexual orientation is of no consequence in their ability to undertake the work required.

RR504 Local authorities, housing associations, co-ops and building societies shall adopt a general statement prohibiting any distinction between heterosexuals, lesbians and gays, in publicity, housing advice, allocations, transfers and mortgage provisions.

RR505 Sexual orientation of a parent, parents or any individual, shall in no way determine or reflect upon their ability and worth in caring for children.

RR506 The Green Party deplores the ban on same-sex civil marriage and is committed to repealing it. We support civil marriage equality and believe that a same sex couple should have exactly the same right to get married in a registry office as an opposite sex couple. As well as opening up civil marriage to LGBT couples, we also believe that heterosexual couples should be able to have a civil partnership, as an alternative to marriage. In other words, both civil marriage and civil partnerships should be open to all couples, regardless of sexual orientation and without discrimination.

RR507 The Green Party also supports an end to the ban on civil partnerships being conducted in places of worship whilst recognising it is up to religious bodies to make this decision and not for the state to dictate to them prohibitions on civil partnerships.

RR508 Ensure legal parity for parents and those wishing to become parents regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Maternity services are to provide equality of service without discrimination or prejudice to lesbian and bisexual women, trans people and partners.

RR509 All legislation on equality and diversity will include LGBTI people so that, for instance, they are given explicit protection against harassment and discrimination. Opt-outs from equality and discrimination laws by religious organisations will not be allowed.

Trans rights

RR520 The Green Party supports the removal of the “spousal veto”, where trans individuals require written permission from their partner for their marriage to continue if they obtain a gender recognition certificate.

RR521 The process of transitioning through the NHS should empower rather than demean trans people. Gender Identity Clinics should consult service users on how to better recognise trans people's own expertise and experience in service provision.

RR522 The NHS should better recognise the increasing need for Gender Identity Clinics and increase service provision, across the country

RR523 The NHS should remove barriers to accessing services for trans people, with thorough review of access to services for Children and Young People and for those who have self prescribed or self funded gender treatment in the UK or abroad

RR524 The Green Party would push for root and branch efforts to address transphobia in society, initiating public education programs both in schools and wider society. Current anti-discrimination legislation should be reviewed so as to provide protection to all trans individuals. Current exemptions to anti-discrimination legislation should be scrapped

RR525 A Green Government would review the Gender Recognition Act 2004, the Equalities Act 2010 and the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 as they contain significant flaws that discriminate against some Trans people and thus they are not fit-for-purpose.

The Green Party recognises the following issues and would ensure the reviews of the acts outlined above resolves the following issues:
• There is currently NO legal recognition for non-binary people
• There is currently NO legal recognition for trans youth (trans people under the age of 18)
• There is no provision for the alteration of birth certificates for intersex people
• Married trans people in England require permission from their spouse before gaining Legal Recognition (the spousal veto)
• Trans people are often forced to conform to stereotypical gender roles before being able to transition
• There are few protections for trans people to access services and gendered spaces (such as toilets, sporting facilities or hospitals) that match their affirmed gender.


In sport, trans people are often ‘outed’, subjected to humiliating treatment, forced to provide unnecessary medical details and proofs of ‘genital surgeries’ that have no relevance to the stated aim of ‘ensuring that all of the same gender compete on a level playing field’. This is due to the extensive amount of exemptions contained within the existing Gender Recognition Act, not least of which is that a trans person’s birth certificate does not have the same legal standing as a cis person’s.

Prostitution and the Sex Industry

RR550 The Green Party believes that the law should not seek to regulate consensual sexual activities between adults where those do not affect others. Where there are such effects, a balance must be reached. Adults should be free to do as they wish with their own bodies, and to practice whatever form of sexual activity they wish by themselves or with each other by mutual consent. This includes the freedom not only to engage in such sexual acts, but also to be photographed or filmed doing so, to make such images available to other adults with their consent, and to be able to view such images. That someone might receive payment for any of these activities should not affect this freedom.

RR551 Regardless of generally accepted standards of public morality in the past, no attempt to end various aspects of prostitution with prohibitive laws has worked. In addition, with the availability of sexually explicit material via the internet it is not realistic to expect that censorship laws will be able to stop access to such material in the future.

RR552 For the reasons given above, the Green Party believes that attempting to stop the sex industry by using prohibitive laws is neither desirable nor realistic.

RR553 Criminalisation of many parts of the sex industry leaves those working within it in a vulnerable position. They are often unable to turn to the law for help in cases where their rights are violated, and instead fall prey to criminal gangs and pimps.

RR554 Therefore, all aspects of sex work involving consenting adults should be decriminalised. Restrictions and censorship of sexually explicit material should be ended, except for those which are aimed at protecting children. Workers in the sex industry should enjoy the same rights as other workers such as the right to join unions (See WR410), the right to choose whether to work co-operatively with others etc. Decriminalisation would also help facilitate the collection of taxes due from those involved in sex work. Legal discrimination against sex workers should be ended (for example, in child custody cases, where evidence of sex work is often taken to mean that a person is an unfit parent).

RR555 The Green Party recognises that, although people should be free to engage in sex work if they wish, this is an industry which can be more exploitative than others, and those who work in it should be adequately protected against such exploitation. There should be zero tolerance of coercion, violence, or sexual abuse (including child abuse). Those who have been trafficked into the country and forced to work in the sex industry against their will should receive protection under the law (see MG450-454). There should be legal support for sex workers who want to sue those who exploit their labour unfairly, and access to re-training for those sex workers who want to leave the industry. As far as possible, public services, the Government and legal system should aim to end those social attitudes which stigmatise those who are, or have been, sex workers.

RR556 Regular health checks should be available to all sex workers, free of charge (see H300), to protect both them and their clients.

RR557 The use of commercial premises as brothels should be legalised, and such brothels should be subject to licensing by local authorities to ensure protection of those working there and clients from abuse, and protection of the local community from nuisance and abuse. Some prostitutes choose to work from home, or similarly in residential premises, like some other trades. Such use of primarily residential premises should be permitted without a licence being required, subject to the avoidance of nuisance and abuse. This exemption from licensing requirements should still apply if more than one person works in such premises, provided that such activities take place on a sufficiently small scale that they are not tantamount to a commercial brothel.

RR558 The decriminalisation of prostitution should not require all prostitutes to work in regulated brothels. Doing this would still leave a criminalized street prostitution market. Those workers whom regulated brothels chose to employ would work legally, and those who not so employed would still work illegally on the streets. In order to protect those street workers (often the most vulnerable) the law shall not criminalize their activity.

RR559 Laws against soliciting should be repealed, and issues of "public nuisance" should be dealt with under general legal provision against nuisance. In order to minimise any such nuisance, wherever possible particular areas should be designated where street prostitutes can work in safety without upsetting local residents and traders. Such areas should be decided by negotiation between the police, prostitutes and/or their representatives, and the residents and/or their representatives. Local authorities and the health service should ensure that such street workers have ready access to health facilities and advice about the health risks of their work.

Travellers' rights

RR700 The Green Party recognises that Gypsies and other Travellers are sections of society which are greatly disadvantaged and discriminated against. We recognise also that the travelling people have ancient, valuable and valid lifestyles and cultures, and have a right to preserve these. Legislation concerning Travellers should aim to ensure equal rights and community obligations for Travellers as citizens, without imposing unwanted conformity to the values and lifestyle of the dominant culture.

RR701 Housing: The Green Party would not impose conventional housing upon Travellers who wish to maintain a traditional lifestyle, but recognises that there has always been a degree of movement both ways between the settled and travelling populations, and believes that those Travellers who so wish should be able to acquire the same right as other citizens to public housing provision.

RR702 Travellers' Sites: The Green Party would in the short term amend the 1968 Caravan Sites Act so that:

i) The Secretary of State for the Environment and the Secretary of State for Wales would be obliged to enforce the requirement upon County Councils to provide sufficient sites for Travellers in their areas, and this requirement would apply to both residential and transit sites.

ii) Local authorities would be obliged to provide and maintain Travellers' sites to recommended standards designed to prevent overcrowding and allow reasonable living and working conditions.

iii) The "Designated Area" status would be abolished. Local authorities which satisfy the Secretary of State that they are providing sufficient Travellers' sites would be granted a new status of 'Complying Authorities', which would be valid for a limited period only, and would be subject to regular review.

iv) The requirement of local authorities to provide regular information to the Secretary of State concerning the number of Travellers in their areas would be tightened up and made subject to periodic independent scrutiny by the DECC and Welsh Assembly Government in consultation with Gypsy and Travellers' organisations, in order to prevent deliberate or accidental under-reporting which leads to under-provision of sites.

v) Complying Authorities would have a limited power to take proceedings against Travellers in the relevant County Court to compel them to move onto local authority sites where such sites were suitable and available.

RR703 In the longer term the Green Party will introduce new legislation which would guarantee proper protection for the nomadic lifestyle of Travellers whilst ensuring that the lifestyle of the settled population is equally protected. This legislation would guarantee limited security of occupation on various forms of public land - limited in terms of number of caravans, length of stay, and factors such as road safety. Where commons or other areas of open land are traditional or customary stopping places for Travellers, there should be a right of residence for up to 28 days irrespective of whether Complying Authority status applied. Where such sites are traditional wintering places, there should be a right of residence between 1st October and 31st March, and no right of residence between 1st April and 30th September.

RR704 Rubbish Collection: The statutory duty of District Councils to provide rubbish collection services to local authority Travellers' sites in their area should be extended to cover all encampments.

RR705 Education: Travellers should have an effective right of access to education for their children, equal to that enjoyed by non-Travellers. Where Travellers wish to send their children to local authority schools, they should have an enforceable legal right to do so. Where traveller parents so prefer, suitable educational provision should be made available through special units (including mobile units) and peripatetic specialist teachers, and such provision should be available in particular to travellers in temporary encampments and transit sites.

RR706 Voting Rights: Electoral Registration Officers should have a duty to ensure voting forms are delivered to Travellers in their area, and the right of Travellers and other persons of no fixed abode to be included in the electoral register wherever they happen to be on the registration date should be specifically written in to the Representation of the People Act.

RR707 Racial Discrimination: The Green Party would broaden the scope of existing legislation against racial discrimination to specifically include discrimination against Travellers, irrespective of ethnic origin.

RR708 Employment: Green Party policies of encouraging recycling and a return to smaller-scale organically-based agriculture are of obvious relevance and benefit to the many Travellers employed in these areas.

RR709 Social Security: Whilst the Green Party would expect the introduction of a Basic Income Scheme (EC750s) to increase the take-up of benefits by Travellers, the situation would be closely monitored to ensure that this proved to be the case, and additional measures would be taken if this proved necessary.

Racism

RR800 Racism is unacceptable and should be opposed in all of its forms and in all areas of society. Any society based on racism is abhorrent, and unacceptable even if presented as ecologically sustainable.

RR801 Racism can only be tackled effectively through local scale community-based and community-led initiatives to tackle racism's social and economic causes and to increase awareness of the value of diverse cultures.

RR802 The UK Government must take a lead in tackling racism by implementing non-discriminatory immigration, nationality and criminal justice policies and ensuring that anti-discrimination measures in employment and the provision of services are effective.

RR803 The Green Party will not mount joint campaigns or policy initiatives on any issues with groups who endorse racial, ethnic or national hatred.

RR804: Speakers and Officers of The Green Party will only share platforms with groups who endorse racial, ethnic or national hatred at a public or private meeting where that offers an opportunity to confront and oppose racism.

RR805 Investigation, prosecution and sentencing practices by public bodies in relation to incidents of racial harassment must be effective and be seen by the victims of racially motivated crimes to be effective. Where racial motivation in committing a crime is shown, particular care should be taken to ensure that the sentence given to the offender involves sufficient protection from further racially motivated crimes to the victims and to the community.

 

Ageism

RR900 The Green Party recognises that discrimination due to age is pervasive in our society. The Green Party considers this unacceptable and seeks to introduce safeguards in order to prevent such discrimination. The Green Party recognises that both younger and older people can suffer age discrimination. 

RR901 Present equalities protections would also be extended to volunteers as well as to the provision of products and services. 

RR902 The intention of such efforts is not to affect the provision of age appropriate services.

Rights of Nature

 

RR1000: The Green Party advocates the legal recognition of rights of nature as a legal concept to protect ecosystems. Central to this are the rights of nature to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, as well as the right to restoration. Green parliamentarians, both in Europe and the UK, will support any sensible measures to introduce such legal instruments.

RR1001: Recognising the rights of nature advances a new framework for environmental protection, placing the highest societal value and protection on nature through the recognition of rights.

RR1002: The State shall defend and enforce the rights of nature. People and communities shall be empowered to defend and enforce the rights of nature for perceived breaches, which will then be judged through the legal system.

RR1003: If an ecosystem’s rights are breached then the State shall establish effective mechanisms to achieve full restoration and shall adopt adequate measures to prevent future violations of the rights of nature.

RR1004: These rights will not be restrictive to human flourishing, and will be designed to cover a definition of ecosystems that is established in conjunction with legal experts, as well as public consultation.

RR1005: The rights of nature will be established in coordination with legal experts and will involve public consultation; as well as dialogue with countries that have successfully integrated rights of nature into their constitutions and legal frameworks.

RR1006: Recognising that corporate rights and powers are often used to exploit nature and undermine environmental protections, corporations that violate or seek to violate the rights of nature shall not possess legal rights, powers, privileges, immunities, or duties which may interfere with or violate the rights of nature.

 

Rights & Responsibilities chapter updates:

Spring 2016: Rights of Nature section added after RR902; review current Gender recognition RR525 added

Spring 2015: Trans Rights section added after RR509; Access to Justice section updated.
Spring 2013: Community Rights RR405 added
Spring 2012: RR400 - 411 amended, RR600 deleted and RR900-902 added
Aututm 2011: RR702 iv amended
Spring 2010: added RR506 & RR507 on same sex civil partnerships


 

Connected RoPS

The following additional policy statements can be found in the Green Party Record of Policy Statements (RoPS) on Responsibilities & Rights are available here:

  • RRR08.1 Anti-semitism (Autumn 2008)

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