Freedom of thought, conscience and religion - Conor Gearty's challenge


1.      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.


2.      Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.


edited on Mar 23, 2015 by Noita Sadler

ConstitutionUK Apr 10, 2015

It seems that this idea was broadly accepted but some members expressed concerns about the reservation clause in part 2 of this draft article. 

Should the right to freedom of religion be an unlimited right?  The text as it stands is the exact wording of the European Convention on Human Rights. 

Please comment to let us whether/how this right should be limited.   We have a very tight schedule so make sure to get involved asap. 

The ConstitutionUK Team  

Rob G Apr 13, 2015

As with the other Convention rights where a similar qualification applies, I'm not sure why a (public) morals exclusion would be appropriate. Other than that, I'm largely happy with the proposal - as long as the use of "change" in part 1 includes "leave". The state should not be in the business of endorsing apostasy / heresy provisions of particular beliefs.

Scott Wilson Apr 13, 2015

I would have thought the only limitation that need be on freedom of religion is to respect the individual rights of others.  

Quite simply, the boundary of your right to any freedom of thought, expression, belief or conscience is where it violates upon the rights of any others to the autonomy of their body and property, and all rights pertaining to those (including the same freedom of thought, expression, belief, conscience, assembly, association, trade, contract).  Other matters such as public health and safety can be covered by this as well, I'd be loathe to say "morals" as all that is appropriate under this is covered by basic individual rights.

Rob G Apr 13, 2015

I don't necessarily disagree - but the qualification isn't on the holding of the belief, but its manifestation. To take an extreme example, last year there was a significant interference in certain countries in West Africa with people's rights to manifest their beliefs (in full) in their traditional funeral practices, in order to tackle the Ebola outbreak.

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Scott Wilson Apr 13, 2015

Yes, I agree, it is the practice where it interferes with the rights of others, such as the example you describe.

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Ian Smith Apr 13, 2015

Could ConstitutionUK attempt to include in this clause the right to have no religion and to manifest non-religious ideas and belief in these clauses?

Kind regards,


Michael Griffith Apr 15, 2015

Yes, the right of freedom of thought and expression clearly must include the freedom to express any ideas whether they be considered religious or non-religious.