Synergy and Conflict—Competing and Overlapping Interests of Freedom of Religion or Belief and Equality

Dr. Mine Yıldırım is Head of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee’s Freedom of Belief Initiative in TurkeyIssues relating to freedom of religion or belief and non-discrimination continue to provide a source for vigorous debate within parts of the human rights community.

The Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief published on 27 February 2020, which addresses gender-based violence and discrimination in the name of religion or belief, provides analyses and recommendations that drive further reflection on the various components of the right to freedom of religion or belief, including its scope, the subjects of the rights involved, and the obligations of states and other parties. While the Report claims to see “freedom of religion or belief and non-discrimination as mutually reinforcing rights,” this is not consistently the case. The Report rightly emphasizes that the right to freedom of religion or belief belongs to everyone, including men, women, and LGBT+ individuals, and that certain acts cannot be protected as manifestations of religion or belief and therefore must be restricted. However, as I indicate below, a more nuanced conception of autonomy and “collectivities” exists that the Report could have adopted to capitalize on the synergies between the freedom of religion or belief and equality. Continue reading “Synergy and Conflict—Competing and Overlapping Interests of Freedom of Religion or Belief and Equality”