Report on Freedom of Religion and Belief

The Baptist Union of Wales (BUW) alongside the Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB) and the European Baptist Federation (EBF) along with the input of Irish Baptist Networks[1]  are glad to jointly submit this report regarding the human rights situation in the United Kingdom. The Report pays particular attention to the situation of freedom of religion or belief (FORB) in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Baptists have a long tradition of defending freedom of religion or belief, beginning more than 400 years ago with Thomas Helyws’ 1612 call for freedom of religion for all. Along with our commitment to freedom of religion or belief, Baptists maintain a commitment to human rights in their civil, political, economic, cultural, and environmental forms.[2] Human rights are necessarily interconnected and, while this report adopts a particular focus on issues and questions of freedom of religion or belief in the United Kingdom, we affirm that this right cannot be separated or isolated from the full range of human rights. Therefore, some issues of freedom of expression, freedom of movement and the right to asylum are necessarily addressed in the report, demonstrating a constructive approach regarding  freedom of religion or belief and human rights in the United Kingdom.  In identifying problems and potential problems, we aim to play a role in identifying and, where possible, contributing to solutions. Our objective is therefore to work cooperatively and constructively with our national and devolved governments and also our communities to advance the cause of freedom of religion or belief for all people.

It is in this context that the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) presents an opportunity to share information and ideas with the international community regarding the situation of freedom of religion or belief in the United Kingdom through a significant  process on the international stage which upholds mutual accountability in relation to  human rights. This report contributes to the Review by dividing thematic issues into individual sections. Section 1 addresses the United Kingdom Ministry of Justice-led human rights reforms contained in the “Modern Bill of Rights”; Section 2 addresses potential freedom of religion issues in the proposed “Protect Duty” legislation; Section 3 addresses issues of Antisemitism and Islamophobia in the UK context; Section 4 discusses potential FORB concerns arising from the proposed restrictions on Conversion Therapy; Section 5 deals with broader human rights concerns connected with the  Nationalities and Borders Bill currently progressing through Parliament; and, finally, Section 6 sets out wording for a set of potential UPR Recommendations for the United Kingdom in the upcoming 41st Cycle of the Universal Periodic Review.

Read the report in full here: 

[1] Irish Baptist Networks (IBN)  is a registered charity and advocacy group which does not aspire to fulfil the functions of a national Baptist Union. In this sense IBN differs in structure and function from the reporting Baptist Union of Great Britain and  the Baptist Union of Wales.  IBN is an Associate Member of the European Baptist Federation and an Affiliate Member of the Baptist World Alliance which “aims to encourage the Baptist community in Ireland to engage to mutual Benefit with the wider Baptist Family across Europe and globally.” We extend special appreciation to Dr. Paul Fleming and Rev. Stephen Adams for their rich contributions to this report.

[2] Resolution  on Human Rights, Baptist World Alliance, BWA General Council Resolution 1997.1,


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