Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom

Australian Statement

Speech

Washington DC

26 July 2018

Australia thanks the United States for hosting this worthwhile dialogue on how we – states, civil society and the private sector – can work together to protect and promote the human right of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB).  It is valuable to bring together diverse voices when seeking solutions to international human rights challenges.

Continuing our advocacy on this issue is a priority of Australia's membership of the Human Rights Council.  We are an established co-sponsor and supporter of the HRC resolutions on FoRB, and the Special Rapporteur on FoRB's mandate. We regularly raise concerns regarding protection of FoRB through the Universal Periodic Review process and in bilateral engagements with our international partners.  We are pleased to share best practice in this area with fellow members of the International Contact Group on FoRB.

Australia remains concerned about the restrictions on freedom of religion or belief maintained by some governments, or imposed by non-state actors, around the world.  In our view, freedom of religion or belief includes, but is not limited to, the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief, manifest one's religion or belief, and change, leave or not hold a religion or belief.  The freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject to limitations that are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

Religious freedom and tolerance are fundamental to open, multicultural and resilient societies. All people are entitled to respect, dignity and legal protection, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, indigeneity, national origin or any other status.

We urge all actors to respect the right of freedom of religion or belief.  Australia continues to consider how best to promote and protect freedom of religion or belief at home, and abroad.  We look forward to sharing the outcomes of the recent Religious Freedom Review, led by the Hon. Philip Ruddock, and the ongoing Joint Standing Committee of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Parliamentary Inquiry into Freedom of Religion or Belief with partners in due course.

Last Updated: 26 July 2018