Government 'expects all UK businesses' to respect religious freedom

(Photo: Unsplash/NikMacMillan)

The government has said it "expects all UK businesses" to respect human rights, including freedom of religion or belief (FoRB).

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon made the comments in a written answer on behalf of the government to a question submitted by Lord Alton.

Lord Alton's question asked the government what assessment they had made of a call to action by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for International Freedom of Religion or Belief, which calls on the government to "actively promote the values of faith-and-belief friendly workplaces".

The call to action by the  argues that FoRB in the workplace is good for businesses, the economy and people of faith.

"By making workplaces faith-and-belief friendly, this expands the space where people's differing faiths and beliefs are welcome, thereby increasing freedom of religion or belief for millions worldwide," it reads.

Writing in the foreward to the APPG's report, Jim Shannon MP called freedom of religion or belief "a touchstone human right".

"It enters every aspect of our lives, not only in religious practice. Whether in home life, the workplace, recreation, or any other setting, our belief systems, backgrounds, and identities travel with us," he said.

"This report is a much-needed step in developing governmental thought on FoRB and business, showcasing the fantastic steps which businesses across the world, including many in the UK, are taking to promote "covenantal pluralism" in their workplaces."

Responding to Lord Alton's question, Lord Ahmad said the government was supportive of FoRB in the workplace.

"Promoting the right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) is one of the UK's longstanding human rights priorities," he said.

"As well as championing FoRB, we have consistently supported the UN Guiding Principles (UNGPs) on business and human rights, which are widely regarded as the authoritative international framework to steer practical action by governments and businesses worldwide on this important agenda.

"The government is clear that it expects all UK businesses to respect human rights, including FoRB, throughout their operations, in line with the UNGPs."