Humanist groups

Humanists working together

In many parts of the world, humanists work together to try to promote the understanding of Humanism, and a fairer society.

For example, in the United Kingdom, the British Humanist Association (BHA) has been around since 1896. It is a charity which works on behalf of humanists to promote human rights and equality in the UK. It also provides educational materials about Humanism, along with humanist ceremonies for non-religious people who want to mark funerals, weddings, and the naming of children in a suitable way.

In the UK there is another humanist charity, the Humanist Society Scotland, which works on many of the same issues but with a specific focus on Scotland. Because its work overlaps with the BHA and they share a common goal, the two organisations work closely together.

There are lots of other organisations like the BHA and the HSS around the world. There are Dutch groups, German groups, American groups, Canadian groups, Ugandan groups, Filipino groups – there are humanist groups everywhere. They range in size and activities but most will be concerned about the promotion of human rights and secularism in their own countries, as well as for the common welfare of human beings and animals internationally. Most will be members of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), a global organisation which supports humanist groups and tackles the issues which require more of an international perspective. In many parts of the world, non-religious people are persecuted by governments or by ordinary citizens. IHEU speaks out on their behalf at the international level.

Humanist groups in Europe will also probably be members of the European Humanist Federation (EHF). Over 50 groups are members of the EHF, which tries to work on issues with a specific European dimension to them. This is because European countries have lots of close ties and diplomatic relationships and agreements, so European issues often require an international approach. A lot of European countries are also members of the European Union or the Council of Europe, and the EHF works on issues in relation to these institutions as well.

Closer to home, the BHA is also a member of the Humanist Council of the Isles, which is a grouping of humanist organisations from nearby islands like Great Britain, Ireland, and the Isle of Man.

Local and specialist groups

Humanist groups don’t just come in the form of national organisations either. Across the UK for instance, there are lots of local humanist groups partnered with the BHA, such as the Greater Manchester Humanists or the Central London Humanists. They tend to campaign on local issues and put on events and do other work in their local area. There are humanist groups across America and across Europe which have similar relationships with their national organisations.

Other times, a humanist organisation may choose to focus on promoting Humanism in a different way. For example, in the UK, the Rationalist Association promotes Humanism by publishing a magazine called New Humanist, while the charity Conway Hall is home to the Humanist Library and organises and hosts cultural events in the centre of London, very often with a humanist theme. In other countries, humanist groups take other forms too. The American group Responsible Charity and the Pakistani humanist group Aware Girls both provide education to help people in deprived areas better themselves and improve their circumstances. In Africa there are lots of humanist groups working with a similar aim. The Uganda Humanist Schools Trust runs schools which offers a broad-based, liberal, and secular education to children in deprived areas.