India: Freedom of Religion or Belief - Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:14 pm on 16 April 2024.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench 3:14, 16 April 2024

My Lords, will the noble Lord build on the success of his department at the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in managing to include in communiqué the words,

“freedom of religion or belief are cornerstones of democratic societies”,

and will he encourage his officials on two things? The first is to emphasise that this is not exceptionalism and that Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—that everyone has the right to believe, not to believe or to change their belief—is about every human being’s right. Secondly, there is empirical evidence that shows that those countries which promote freedom of religion or belief are the most prosperous and most stable in the world. If we look at factors such as the 114 million displaced people in the world, we see that they are often in countries where there is not such freedom.