Vulnerable situation of women and converts
77. While the Special Rapporteur has not received any complaints of discriminatory State policies against women or converts on the basis of their religion or belief in the United Kingdom, yet many women are in a vulnerable situation within their own communities. The Special Rapporteur believes that equality must be all-encompassing and the argument by some religious leaders that traditions should override the rights of women is unacceptable.
78. Furthermore, the Special Rapporteur is concerned about the situation of converts who face problems with the community of their former religion. Even though some religious believers seem to accept a conversion only when it involves a change into their own religion such an approach does not acknowledge diversity and infringes on freedom of religion or belief. In that regard both article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights unequivocally state that the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion also includes the freedom to change a religion or belief. The Special Rapporteur would like to emphasize that theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief are protected.