Freedom of religion and belief

Everyone should have the right to make their own religious or ideological choices. This includes the choice to convert to a different religion or not to believe. The Netherlands makes no distinction between different religions or beliefs.

Unfortunately, however, there is growing intolerance around the world when it comes to religion and belief. More than three-quarters of the world's population live in countries with limited freedom of religion and belief. For this reason, freedom of religion and belief is a key part of the Netherlands’ human rights policy.

Dutch efforts to promote freedom of religion and belief worldwide

In some cases religious or traditional values can restrict fundamental rights and freedoms. For instance those of women and children, and those of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons. The Netherlands opposes the limitation of these rights and freedoms by:

  • ensuring freedom of religion and belief is a top priority at various international organisations including the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OCSE) and the Council of Europe (CoE);
  • highlighting the importance of freedom of religion and belief in various settings. For instance in talks with the government of the country in question or in dialogues with religious leaders;
  • financing projects through the Human Rights Funds. For an up-to-date overview of projects see the Human Rights Report which is submitted to Parliament each year;
  • having the Human Rights Ambassador raise the issue in countries where these freedoms are under threat.