50 years of Humanism

50 years of the Happy Human: 50 years of Humanism

For the past 50 years, the humanist movement, united by a common cause and by the Happy Human symbol, has campaigned passionately for a fairer society.

Society has changed in many positive ways since that symbol was first invented in 1965, and humanist ways of thinking about problems have become increasingly influential in our day-to-day lives.

Having a unified symbol for Humanism was crucial towards the development of this movement, and so it’s only right that 50 years on, we take the time to reflect on everything that’s happened between then and now.

Changing society

In particular, where injustices have been linked to religions and religious attitudes, the existence of a cogent and united humanist movement has proven essential to bringing together popular support for broader reforms. For example, in the United Kingdom, humanists successfully campaigned for an end to outdated ‘blasphemy’ laws which punished people for expressing views about particular religions. On issues like abortion and rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual (LGBT) people, where religious views in society restricted women’s and LGBT rights, humanists played a crucial role in advancing these issues by arguing for them from a rational, empathetic standpoint.

The Human Rights Act in 1998, at the end of the 20th century, enshrined the concept of inalienable human rights in UK law, and created a means by which many more people could seek justice, and equal treatment of their rights under the law, for the first time.

Over the second half of the 20th century, as people in the UK became less and less likely to identify as religious (and more likely to be non-religious and have a humanist way of seeing the world), the humanist voice has become increasingly prominent. Even so, society gives a great deal of preferential treatment to religious views over humanist ones, and this continues to be a major focus of campaigns from humanists in the 21st century.