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Time for Scotland to put in place the right to take part in cultural life

This news post is about 1 year old

Charities and campaigners will gather in Glasgow to discuss the issue.

Human rights organisations have called on Scottish public authorities to start to take the human right to cultural life seriously. 

Groups led by the Human Rights Consortium have said that, whilst we all have this right to access and take part in culture, all too often, it is minority groups who miss out.

More than 150 delegates from across the cultural and community sectors in Scotland will gather on Monday at an event organised by Human Rights Consortium Scotland and Art27 Scotland to explore what this right to cultural life in Scotland could mean. 

Alexandra Xanthaki, the UN special rapporteur in the field of cultural rights will address delegates, speaking about its importance internationally.

Mhairi Snowden, director of Human Rights Consortium Scotland said: “We greatly welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to incorporate more of our international human rights treaties into our own law here in Scotland. This is the best thing we can do to make them real.

“We know that embedding this right to cultural life can bring huge benefits to our arts and culture sector, and to our communities.

“Now is the time for public authorities, and all those concerned with cultural life, to start to think about what this right to culture might mean for them and what they do. There are big questions such as who is missing out? What steps need to be taken to realise this right?’”

The Scottish Government has committed to introduce a Human Rights Bill in this parliamentary session. 

Amongst others, this Bill will also incorporate the right to cultural life directly into Scots law. 

This will mean that public bodies will need to take steps to progress the realisation of this right. 

For the first time, people will be able to ‘name and claim’ this right, even in court if necessary.

At Monday’s event, a new report on the subject by academics at the universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow will be launched. 

The report sets out that the right to cultural life includes access, participation, and contribution to cultural life. 

It considers questions such as what exactly is this right, and what will its incorporation into Scots law mean in practice.

Robert Rae from Art27 Scotland said: “It is significant that the government in Scotland plans to join the international community in recognising the central importance of cultural rights to the health of democracies. It is everyone’s right to participate freely in the cultural life of their choosing – it is central to all our wellbeing - and it is through culture that we learn about each other.

“At a time when war and climate change is forcing people to migrate, developing the respect that comes through an understanding of each other’s culture has never been more critical for peaceful coexistence.”