Promoting and protecting freedom of religion of belief is a foreign policy priority of the UK. For example, in 2018 the UK appointed its first Special Envoy on freedom of religion or belief. That policy has a dual premise: to draw international attention to the worst cases of violations of the right and discrimination against people because of their faith; and also to maintain a longer-term focus on working with countries to build more inclusive, tolerant and resilient societies – thereby preventing religious hatred and violence. One important aspect of the latter is to encourage exchanges of good practice between countries and between civil society actors.
The UK is also conscious that it should ‘practice what it preaches’ and in that regard has undertaken steps to ensure coherence and consistency between its foreign and domestic policies in the field of religious discrimination and intolerance. For example, in 2010 the UK brought together formerly disparate anti-discrimination laws into a single national Equalities Act. This strong legislative framework to promote inclusion, equality and non-discrimination, including on the basis of religion, was developed in close consultation with religious communities and leaders.
The UK also places a strong emphasis on gathering data about ‘hate crimes’ and ‘hate speech,’ including against certain religious communities.