Religious Freedom

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 27th February 2018.

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Photo of Gavin Shuker Gavin Shuker Labour/Co-operative, Luton South

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to support freedom of religion and belief in other countries to meet the strategic commitment to supporting freedom of religion and belief set out in the FCO Departmental Plan 2015-2020.

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Minister of State

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Departmental Plan 2015-2020 was replaced in December 2017 with the FCO Single Departmental Plan which can be found on gov.uk. In step with the new plan, the FCO continues to promote and defend human rights, including the right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB).

In our ongoing dialogue with foreign governments and through public statements, the FCO raises individual cases and highlights practices and laws that discriminate against people on the basis of their religion or belief. For example, during my visit to Pakistan in November 2017, I raised the treatment of religious minorities, including discrimination and violence against the Ahmadiyya and Christian communities, with Pakistan's Ministry of Human Rights.

The United Kingdom also actively promotes FoRB through multilateral diplomacy. At the United Nations, we work to maintain consensus on the adoption and implementation of the European Union sponsored Resolution on 'Freedom of Religion or Belief' and the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation sponsored Resolution on 'Combating Religious Intolerance'.

Through the Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy, the FCO continues to support a number of projects to promote tolerance. Current projects include work to promote religious tolerance through secondary school curricula in Iraq, Morocco and Lebanon, and a project which supports a network of human rights defenders in South Asia working on this priority.

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