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BHA joins with others to oppose UN Treaty against ‘defamation of religions’

The British Humanist Association (BHA), together with a number of other human rights groups and civil society organisations, has agreed to a common statement protesting against a proposed United Nations (UN) treaty to prohibit the ‘defamation of religions.’ The UN has continuously passed non-binding resolutions on ‘defamation of religions”’ since 1999. However, for the first time ever this year, a UN body proposed a binding treaty to combat the ‘defamation of religions.’

Naomi Phillips, BHA Public Affairs Officer, said, ‘The BHA has opposed every UN resolution that has sought to protect religion from defamation. Incitement to violence or to hatred is always deplorable but in a free society we must be allowed to criticise religious doctrines and practices, even if that offends people who consider it to be defamation of their religion or religious beliefs. Any attempt to legislate against the defamation of religion is not only dangerous but always inconsistent with fundamental freedoms and human rights.’


For further comment, contact Naomi Phillips or 020 7079 3585.

For more information and to read the Common Statement from Civil Society on the Concept of the “Defamation of Religions” see

Read more about the BHA’s work on free speech at the international level.

United Nations resolutions on the `defamation of religions’ are incompatible with the fundamental freedoms of individuals to freely exercise and peacefully express their thoughts, ideas, and beliefs.

Unlike traditional defamation laws, which punish false statements of fact that harm individual persons, measures prohibiting the `defamation of religions’ punish the peaceful criticism of ideas.  Additionally, the concept of `defamation of religions’ is fundamentally inconsistent with the universal principles outlined in the United Nations’ founding documents, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms the protection of the rights of individuals, rather than ideas.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing and supporting the non-religious and campaigning for an end to religious privilege and discrimination based on religion or belief.

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