Charity Tribunal allows appeal by Human Rights Charity

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The Charity Tribunal has allowed an appeal by the Human Dignity Trust (HDT) against the Charity Commission’s decision not to register it as a charity.

The HDT works to support individuals who seek to challenge legislation criminalising consensual sexual activity between same-sex adults in certain countries.  It does so by supporting strategic litigation to protect victims of human rights abuses or to uphold the constitutional law of any jurisdiction where subordinate legislation may contravene it.

In July 2011 the HDT applied to be registered as a charity and requested a decision review after the Commission refused its application in June 2012.

The Charity Commission again refused to register the HDT, asserting that:

  1. the human rights objects of HDT were not framed as being exclusively charitable purposes;
  2. it was uncertain what “human rights” meant in the context of charity law; and
  3. the HDT existed to change the law, which was a political purpose rather than charitable because the public benefit is incapable of proof.

However, the HDT successfully argued that the definition of human rights was clear and a charity should be able to bring or support litigation to protect victims of human rights abuses and to uphold the constitutional law of any jurisdiction by which a country had agreed to be bound.

In particular, as laws criminalising private homosexual conduct between consenting adults infringe international human rights law, and constitutional law in certain jurisdictions, the HDT argued that it is a proper means of promoting human rights and promoting the sounds administration of the law to bring or support litigation which may result in those offending laws being quashed in those jurisdictions.

In allowing the appeal, the Tribunal was satisfied that the HDT is established for the purposes of (i) promoting and protecting human rights as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and (ii) promoting the sound administration of the law, both of which in this case were exclusively charitable and for the public benefit.

For more information please contact Chris Hook or 0191 211 7929.