Naomi calls for renewed focus on freedom of and from religion

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Alliance will call for a renewed focus on the right to freedom of and from religion in the new Parliament, Naomi Long has said.

Naomi said the entitlement had a strong link with other human rights and civil liberties, giving people other political, social, economic and cultural rights, as well as the prevention of poverty.

Naomi, who was Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Religious Freedom and worked closely with a number of charities to further action in the House of Commons in the last Parliament, said global religious persecution was on the rise.

“There sadly seems to be regular incidents, ranging from discrimination to killings, with conservative estimates being hundreds of people of faith having been killed worldwide in the past number of years. The plurality of views and beliefs in the UK is something we should be proud of, because not everybody is so lucky.

“My own faith is a hugely important part of who I am, so I recognise the important role I have as a politician to help create an open, tolerant and shared society in which those of all faiths and none enjoy freedom of religion and belief. In Northern Ireland, the lines between faith and politics can become blurred in a negative way when politicians seek to impose their own faith perspective on others through legislation or to limit the rights of those with whom they differ.

“We must recognise equality and religious freedom are both fundamental to a democratic society, and both must be promoted and protected. It is important this freedom extends not only to Christians and our beliefs, but to those of other faiths.

“As well as freedom of religion, it is crucial we include the right to freedom from religion for those who are non-believers.”