Freedom of Religion or Belief

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – in the House of Commons on 26th April 2022.

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Photo of Fiona Bruce Fiona Bruce Conservative, Congleton

What steps she is taking to ensure that freedom of religion or belief remains a key strategic priority for her Department.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Promoting freedom of religion or belief is one of the UK’s longest-standing human rights priorities. We are making good progress on implementing the Bishop of Truro’s recommendations to support everyone persecuted for their religion or belief. We are looking forward to hosting an international ministerial conference on freedom of religion or belief in July to drive forward international efforts to promote openness and freedom.

Photo of Fiona Bruce Fiona Bruce Conservative, Congleton

I thank the Foreign Secretary for her strong support for the international conference on freedom of religion or belief, which the UK Government will host in July. Do Ministers agree that that would be an excellent opportunity to showcase how FORB is a priority for the UK Government to many Government Ministers from across the world, whom we hope to welcome to that event, which we expect will be the largest UK-hosted international event of 2022?

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

I thank my hon. Friend for her outstanding work across the world on the Prime Minister’s behalf as his envoy on freedom of religion or belief. She is right to be really concerned about the increasing attacks and the increased severity of attacks on freedom of religion or belief. The conference that the UK is going to lead in July will be enormously important; we will welcome partner countries and stakeholders from all across the world. The Foreign Secretary is very much looking forward to attending it and taking part.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

Thank you for your tolerance of me this morning, Mr Speaker.

Will the Minister meet the Christians in Parliament to discuss this subject? An earlier question was about links with the Commonwealth, and children and adults in certain Commonwealth countries are persecuted for their faith. Can we do something about that? Good communication between those of us who are active Christians in this House and the Minister would be most appreciated.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

I would be very happy, as a Christian, to meet the Christians in Parliament and to meet other faith groups and those who hold no faith. I thank the hon. Member for that invitation.