Intersection with other rights
It is important to understand that neglecting FoRB can lead to abuses and discrimination of other human rights. This neglect is often the result of perceptions – for example the idea that traditional majorities should be privileged, or that the state or religious actors have the right to control people’s beliefs and behaviour.
What does it look like when an individual’s right to freedom of religion or belief is violated?
Sometimes it involves the violent persecution of whole groups. Frequently it involves harassment of individuals in the course of everyday life. Most commonly it takes the form of discrimination in law, whether by authorities or in the community.
Discrimination could mean a lower level of funding for public services in minority areas, being denied access to education or health care altogether, reduced job opportunities and access to housing, or even the annulment of a marriage or the loss of child custody for people who leave a religion. This cascade effect means that denying FoRB normally results in the violation of other human rights, and those affected will be more likely to live in the margins of society with fewer options.
Unsurprisingly, violations of freedom of religion or belief provide fertile ground for tensions and conflicts in which religious and belief identities are politically or ideologically instrumentalised. Therefore, it is important to understand that the goals of development work - to sustainably increase the resilience, quality of life, and opportunities for all beneficiaries - coincide with the need to protect FoRB.