Tuesday December 10, 2013

“Don’t silence the poor” – faith leaders against the Lobbying Bill

Campaigning and lobbying are a huge part of what international development charities do. Unable to end world poverty on our own, we know that world leaders, governments and policy-makers have the power to make changes that will really improve people’s lives – and for many faith-based organisations, speaking out against injustice is an act of worship and a duty. However, a new Lobbying Bill could change all that.

The Bill aims to restrict how much lobbying groups can spend in the year before an election, preventing them from using their influence to give one political party or candidate advantage over another.

But the Bill is so broad in nature, it could also restrict organisations like Islamic Relief, along with other charities and faith groups, from their campaigning activities which speak out on behalf of the poor and the marginalised.

Today, faith leaders from a range of religious traditions – including the Muslim Council of Britain’s Ibrahim Mogra and Dilowar Hussain from East London Mosque – met with Lords and MPs to urge them to re-think the Bill.

To keep silent on issues like the Syrian crisis and global hunger for an entire year would not only be a huge obstacle to our work – it could slow down progress for those millions around the world who can’t afford to wait,” says Shaheda Dewan, External Affairs and Campaigns Manager for Islamic Relief UK. “They are desperate for change, and they rely on us to make their voices heard.

From British Buddhists to Catholic Bishops, representatives from mosques and synagogues, faith leaders were united today in Parliament Square. Together, we pushed the Government to make changes – like reducing the period covered by the Bill from a year to six months and dropping the proposed spending caps – so that faith groups and charities can continue to make our voices heard on poverty, inequality and other crucial issues.

Want to join us and make your voice heard on this issue? Tweet your MP – you can find them on http://tweetminster.co.uk/mpsand push them to call for these changes too, using the hashtag #gagginglaw!

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