7. Definition of "Religion" or "Belief"


page 22

Definition of religion or belief

76. The Special Rapporteur would like to emphasize that it is not the Government’s role to look for the “true voices of Islam” or of any other religion or belief. Since religions or communities of belief are not homogenous entities it seems advisable to acknowledge and take into account the diversity of voices. The Special Rapporteur reiterates that the contents of a religion or belief should be defined by the worshippers themselves while manifestations may be limited according to article 18, paragraph 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, for example to prevent worshippers from violating the rights of others (A/HRC/4/21, paras. 43-47). She fully agrees with Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead who recently stated: “Everyone, therefore, is entitled to hold whatever beliefs he wishes. But when questions of ‘manifestation’ arise, as they usually do in this type of case, a belief must satisfy some modest, objective minimum requirements. These threshold requirements are implicit in article 9 of the European Convention and comparable guarantees in other human rights instruments.”9

9 R. (Williamson) v. Secretary of State for Education and Employment (2005) UKHL 15, para. 23

Return to Report’s Thematic Overview concerning the Definition of “Religion” or “Belief”


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