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There are two main international documents relating to freedom of Religion Article 18  of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights    which is repeated almost word for word in  Article  9(1)  European Convention on Human Rights

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.”

The UN General Assembly has also adopted A Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief


On the 12th April 2005 the UN Commission on Human Rights adopted a Resolution on the Defamation of Religion.  which made specific reference to Islam and


"expressed deep concern that Islam was frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism"


Several countries (including Britain) voted against the Resolution because they objected to Defamation of Islam being specifically singled out for mention.  The resolution however has no legal significance.


There are other UN Documents relating to Religion

In English Law it is Article 9 of the European Convention which is legally significant since the Convention is incorporated into English law by  The Human Rights Act 1998. Article 9  has also been reinforced by   Section 13  of that Act which says

“If a court's determination of any question arising under this Act might affect the exercise by a religious organisation (itself or its members collectively) of the Convention right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, it must have particular regard to the importance of that right”.

Several other Jurisdictions have various types of Blasphemy or Religious Vilification laws.  The one that has aroused the most comment in Britain being the Religious Vilification Laws in Australia.  The Blasphemy Law of Pakistan is also regarded as unusually draconian

 AUSTRALIA -  Religious  Vilification  Laws

 US  Blasphemy Law

Defining  Religion in American Law 

CANADA  Law and Religion links

British Columbia  Religious Discrimination Legislation

PAKISTAN    Blasphemy  Law

History  and effect of  Pakistan Blasphemy  Law 

The Crime of Apostasy in Islam 

Comparison of laws relating to  Polygamous Marriage


 Legal Advice and Representation, Training and Education
Contact     NEIL ADDISON     at     Religion Law