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Your right to freedom of religion and belief

In the UK, human rights are protected by the Human Rights Act 1998. The Act gives effect to the human rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Article 9 - the right to freedom of religion and belief is one of the rights protected by the Human Rights Act.

Read this page to find out more about what the right to freedom of religion and belief means under the Human Rights Act

What are your rights under article 9?

The right to hold beliefs

Article 9 protects your right to hold both religious and non-religious beliefs. This is an absolute right which means it can’t be interfered with by the state. Article 9 includes the right to choose or change your religion or beliefs. It also means you can't be forced to have a particular religion.

The right to manifest your beliefs

Article 9 also protects your right to manifest your beliefs - for example, your right to wear religious clothing, the right to talk about your beliefs or take part in religious worship. The right to manifest your beliefs is qualified. This means it can be interfered with in certain situations - for example, to protect the rights of others.

Examples of article 9 breaches

Examples of where article 9 may be relevant include:

  • the right to wear religious specific uniforms in school
  • the right to wear religious clothing at work or in public places like the courts
  • time off work or school for religious holidays.

Example

You’ve been told by your employer that you can't wear a necklace with a cross at work as it's not allowed under the uniform policy.

This could be a breach of your right to manifest your religion under article 9. However, the right to manifest your religion is a qualified right so your employer might be able to justify interfering with your right. But they would have to show they have a very good reason under the law to stop you from wearing the necklace.

Next steps

Other useful information

The European Convention on Human Rights

You can access the European Convention on Human Rights on the European Court of Human Rights website at

Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS)

The EASS helpline can provide advice and information on human rights and discrimination issues.

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

You can find useful information about discrimination on the EHRC website at

Scottish Human Rights Commission

You can find more information on human rights on the website of the Scottish Human Rights Commission at

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