In June 2009, the Equality and Human Rights Commission published Public perceptions of human rights. The study investigated how the public perceive human rights.
- The values people hold most dear in terms of living in Britain are: being treated with dignity and respect, having freedom of expression, and being treated fairly.
- There is a close alignment between the values that people think are important for society and those which people identify as being fundamental human rights.
- Two-thirds of people feel that human rights are meaningful to them in everyday life.
- There is strong support for a law to protect Human Rights in Britain. In particular, people endorse human rights in governing the way that public services treat people and for creating a fairer society. Perhaps this is because this enables them to connect human rights to their everyday lives and life outcomes.
However, there is a lack of detailed understanding of human rights and the legislation which surrounds these.
Opinions in the deliberative research support the findings from the survey overall:
- Key values described as core to British life were similar to the top-scoring values in the quantitative survey; respect, family, law and order, and equality.
- When asked to generate ‘The most important rights’, participants felt these were education, health, free speech and equality.
- During the discussion, the numbers of participants valuing equality increased slightly, showing perhaps that views on values and rights are amenable to change with the right stimulus.
- However, public terms for discussing these values and rights were not necessarily identical to human rights terminology and for some people there was confusion around what human rights were.
- Human rights were considered to be important by the vast majority at the start of discussions; they were felt to be slightly more important across the groups after each right was discussed in detail.