Civil rights include the ensuring of peoples' physical and mental integrity, life, and safety; protection from discrimination on grounds such as race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, colour, age, political affiliation, ethnicity, religion, and disability; and individual rights such as privacy and the freedoms of thought, speech, religion, press, assembly, and movement.
Political rights include natural justice (procedural fairness) in law, such as the rights of the accused, including the right to a fair trial; due process; the right to seek redress or a legal remedy; and rights of participation in civil society and politics such as freedom of association, the right to assemble, the right to petition, the right of self-defense, and the right to vote.
Civil and political rights form the original and main part of international human rights. They comprise the first portion of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (with economic, social, and cultural rights comprising the second portion). The theory of three generations of human rights considers this group of rights to be "first-generation rights", and the theory of negative and positive rights considers them to be generally negative rights.
The phrase "Rights for Civil" is a translation of Latin ius civis (rights of a citizen). Roman citizens could be either free (libertas) or servile (servitus), but they all had rights in law. After the Edict of Milan in 313, these rights included the freedom of religion; however in 380, the Edict of Thessalonica required all subjects of the Roman Empire to profess Catholic Christianity. Roman legal doctrine was lost during the Middle Ages, but claims of universal rights could still be made based on Christian doctrine. According to the leaders of Kett's Rebellion (1549), "all bond men may be made free, for God made all free with his precious blood-shedding."
In the 17th century, English common law judge Sir Edward Coke revived the idea of rights based on citizenship by arguing that Englishmen had historically enjoyed such rights. The Parliament of England adopted the English Bill of Rights in 1689. It was one of the influences drawn on by George Mason and James Madison when drafting the Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776. The Virginia declaration is the direct ancestor and model for the U.S. Bill of Rights (1789).