The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights, Tolerance and Equality in Europe

http://www.humantruth.info/europe_human_rights_tolerance.html

By Vexen Crabtree 2022

#equality #Europe #finland #human_rights #morals #norway #poland #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)1,2
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank1,2
1Sweden9.9
2Denmark14.7
3Norway15.5
4Netherlands16.5
5Iceland20.1
6Austria22.5
7Luxembourg23.9
8Finland25.2
9France25.9
10Belgium26.1
...
47Monaco94.2
48Andorra97.2
49San Marino100.6
Europe Avg51.7
World Avg89.0
q=49.

The best countries in Europe at protecting human rights, engendering tolerance and supporting equality, are Sweden, Denmark and Norway. The worst countries are San Marino, Andorra and Monaco. Europe has an excellent record on women's rights and gender equality. Prejudice against any protected characteristics found in HR law is actively challenged in most of Europe, especially in countries that have signed up for the European Council of Human Rights (part of the Council of Europe), which frequently sees cases brought by citizens against member states. LGBT rights, freedom of religion and freedom of thought are all routine. The most powerful and effective agents working against human rights in Europe are Christian institutions, especially the Catholic church and conservative movements, plus, the occasional push by backwards political parties or individual leaders. Some of these factors create long-term problems, such as in Poland or Turkey. But, there is nowhere else in the world have the spurious prejudices of human culture have been so diminished as in Europe.


1. Results by Country

#equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)1,2
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank1,2
1Sweden9.9
2Denmark14.7
3Norway15.5
4Netherlands16.5
5Iceland20.1
6Austria22.5
7Luxembourg23.9
8Finland25.2
9France25.9
10Belgium26.1
11Germany26.8
12UK27.9
13Spain29.9
14Slovenia34.9
15Czechia37.9
16Ireland38.5
17Italy39.1
18Slovakia42.7
19Portugal43.0
20Poland44.5
21Estonia44.6
22Romania45.4
23Malta46.3
24Cyprus48.5
25Bulgaria48.6
26Latvia52.6
27Lithuania53.2
28Switzerland53.4
29Kosovo54.2
30Hungary55.6
31Croatia58.3
32Albania59.6
33Greece61.9
34Ukraine62.4
35Bosnia & Herzegovina63.4
36Serbia63.8
37Georgia65.5
38Montenegro71.8
39Liechtenstein73.9
40Armenia74.0
41Macedonia82.2
42Belarus83.0
43Moldova85.7
44Turkey86.2
45Azerbaijan88.6
46Vatican City92.0
47Monaco94.2
48Andorra97.2
49San Marino100.6
Europe Avg51.7
q=49.

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Sweden, Denmark and Norway1. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are The Solomon Islands, Palestine and Somalia1.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice, LGBT equality and freethought. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe1, whereas the worst are Melanesia, Micronesia and Australasia1.

For more, see:

The table on the right shows the full results list for Europe.

Compare Europe to other regions of the world: Compare International Statistics by Region and Continent.

2. Human Rights & Tolerance

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments

#human_rights

Human Rights Watch Comments (2017)3
Pos.Higher is better
Score3
1Germany9
2UK9
3France9
4Netherlands8
5Sweden7
6Ireland7
7Finland6
8Luxembourg6
9Belgium6
10Portugal5
11Romania5
12Italy5
13Lithuania5
14Latvia5
15Slovakia5
16Slovenia5
17Spain5
18Malta5
19Bulgaria5
20Greece5
21Austria5
22Estonia5
23Denmark5
24Czechia5
25Cyprus5
26Poland4
27Croatia4
28Hungary3
29Liechtenstein2
30Norway1
31Ukraine0
32Kosovo-1
33Armenia-1
34Georgia-2
35Turkey-2
36Serbia-3
37Belarus-3
38Azerbaijan-5
39Bosnia & Herzegovina-6
Europe Avg3.5
World Avg-1.9
q=39.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR

#human_rights

Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)4
Pos.Higher is better
Treaties4
1Slovenia23
2Spain23
3Sweden23
4Germany23
5Serbia23
6Denmark22
7Italy22
8Belgium22
9Austria22
10Croatia22
11Azerbaijan21
12Bosnia & Herzegovina21
13Montenegro21
14France21
15Hungary20
16Georgia20
17Albania20
18Cyprus20
19Ukraine20
20Macedonia20
21Slovakia20
22Poland20
23Portugal20
24Norway20
25Czechia20
26Bulgaria20
27Romania20
28Iceland20
29Liechtenstein20
30Ireland19
31UK19
32Finland19
33Luxembourg19
34Greece19
35Switzerland19
36Netherlands19
37Moldova18
38Lithuania18
39Malta18
40Armenia17
41Turkey17
42Estonia17
43San Marino16
44Latvia16
45Monaco16
46Belarus16
47Andorra15
48Vatican City10
Europe Avg19.5
World Avg15.1
q=48.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag (2019)5
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Yrs/Treaty5
1Bulgaria4.24
2Spain4.60
3Sweden4.88
4Ukraine4.94
5Norway5.05
6Denmark5.06
7Romania5.52
8France5.61
9Germany5.62
10Austria5.68
11Belarus5.71
12Cyprus5.81
13Hungary5.91
14Poland6.34
15Italy6.56
16UK6.62
17Portugal6.69
18Finland7.49
19Iceland7.57
20Netherlands8.29
21Belgium8.30
22Greece8.44
23Bosnia & Herzegovina9.17
24Turkey9.48
25Malta9.60
26Luxembourg9.67
27Azerbaijan10.08
28Croatia10.65
29Albania10.94
30Armenia11.00
31Lithuania11.03
32Slovenia11.13
33Slovakia11.24
34Vatican City11.34
35Latvia11.39
36Switzerland11.71
37Macedonia11.71
38Czechia11.73
39Moldova11.99
40Estonia12.06
41Serbia12.44
42Monaco12.76
43Georgia12.77
44Andorra12.91
45Liechtenstein13.28
46Ireland13.38
47San Marino13.63
48Montenegro14.20
Europe Avg9.09
World Avg10.02
q=48.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

For more, see:

2.4. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom (2014)6
Pos.Lower is better
Rank6
1Switzerland2
2Ireland4
3Denmark5
4UK6
5Finland9
6Netherlands10
7Luxembourg11
8Austria11
9Germany13
10Norway13
11Sweden15
12Malta16
13Belgium17
14Czechia18
15Portugal19
16Lithuania20
17Poland21
18Estonia21
19Latvia24
20Iceland25
21Slovakia27
22Italy28
23Romania30
24France31
25Cyprus33
26Spain36
27Hungary37
28Slovenia39
29Bulgaria40
30Georgia43
31Montenegro44
32Croatia44
33Greece48
34Albania50
35Bosnia & Herzegovina54
36Armenia55
37Macedonia55
38Serbia67
39Moldova69
40Turkey73
41Ukraine111
42Azerbaijan128
Europe Avg33.9
World Avg79.7
q=42.

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)7

2.5. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom (2013)8
Pos.Lower is better8
1Finland638
2Netherlands648
3Norway652
4Luxembourg668
5Andorra682
6Denmark708
7Liechtenstein735
8Iceland849
9Sweden923
10Estonia926
11Austria940
12Switzerland994
13Ireland1006
14Czechia1017
15Germany1024
16Belgium1294
17Poland1311
18Slovakia1325
19Cyprus1383
20Portugal1675
21UK1689
22Lithuania1824
23Slovenia2049
24Spain2050
25France2160
26Latvia2289
27Romania2305
28Malta2330
29Moldova2601
30Hungary2609
31Italy2611
32Serbia2659
33Croatia2661
34Bosnia & Herzegovina2686
35Armenia2804
36Greece2846
37Kosovo2847
38Bulgaria2858
39Georgia3009
40Albania3088
41Montenegro3297
42Macedonia3427
43Ukraine3679
44Turkey4656
45Azerbaijan4773
46Belarus4835
Europe Avg2044
World Avg3249
q=46.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted".

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

Europe routinely performs excellently on this index, for example in 2013 "the same three European countries that headed the index last year hold the top three positions again this year. For the third year running, Finland has distinguished itself as the country that most respects media freedom. It is followed by the Netherlands and Norway".

2.6. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Slavery (2018)9
Pos.Lower is better
% Victims9
1Luxembourg0.15
2Denmark0.16
3Sweden0.16
4Austria0.17
5Finland0.17
6Ireland0.17
7Switzerland0.17
8Netherlands0.18
9Norway0.18
10Belgium0.20
11France0.20
12Germany0.20
13Iceland0.21
14UK0.21
15Slovenia0.22
16Spain0.23
17Italy0.24
18Portugal0.25
19Czechia0.29
20Slovakia0.29
21Serbia0.33
22Poland0.34
23Bosnia & Herzegovina0.34
24Estonia0.36
25Hungary0.37
26Latvia0.39
27Kosovo0.40
28Cyprus0.42
29Georgia0.43
30Romania0.43
31Bulgaria0.45
32Azerbaijan0.45
33Armenia0.53
34Moldova0.55
35Lithuania0.58
36Montenegro0.59
37Croatia0.60
38Ukraine0.64
39Turkey0.65
40Albania0.69
41Greece0.79
42Macedonia0.87
43Belarus1.09
Europe Avg0.38
World Avg0.65
q=43.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory10. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends11. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life12. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves13.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery14. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity15. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.16. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi9, Eritrea9, Indonesia17) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery18.

For more, see:

See:

3. Gender Equality

3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Europe has an excellent record on women's rights and gender equality. The battle isn't over - it will take a long time to fully erase the pointless inequalities of patriarchal conservatism, especially in places where the culture is still strongly Christian. But most of Europe is still the best place in the world to be female.

There is indeed a broad consensus throughout Europe to ensure men and women can access contraception, safe abortion services and reproductive healthcare and information on sexuality. This is the basis upon which people can make free and fair choices about their family life and composition.

NSS (2015)19

Gender Inequality (2015)20
Pos.Lower is better20
1Switzerland0.04
2Denmark0.04
3Netherlands0.04
4Sweden0.05
5Iceland0.05
6Norway0.05
7Slovenia0.05
8Finland0.06
9Germany0.07
10Belgium0.07
11Luxembourg0.07
12Austria0.08
13Spain0.08
14Italy0.08
15Portugal0.09
16France0.10
17Cyprus0.12
18Greece0.12
19Lithuania0.12
20Ireland0.13
21Czechia0.13
22UK0.13
23Estonia0.13
24Poland0.14
25Croatia0.14
26Belarus0.14
27Montenegro0.16
28Bosnia & Herzegovina0.16
29Macedonia0.16
30Slovakia0.18
31Serbia0.18
32Latvia0.19
33Malta0.22
34Bulgaria0.22
35Moldova0.23
36Hungary0.25
37Albania0.27
38Ukraine0.28
39Armenia0.29
40Azerbaijan0.33
41Turkey0.33
42Romania0.34
43Georgia0.36
Europe Avg0.15
World Avg0.36
q=43.

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchialism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

3.2. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Pos.Lower is better
Year
1Finland1906
2Norway1913
3Denmark1915
4Iceland1915
5Latvia1918
6Estonia1918
7Netherlands1919
8Austria1919
9Poland1919
10Czechia1919
11Ukraine1919
12Germany1919
13Belarus1919
14Slovakia1919
15Luxembourg1919
16Albania1920
17Lithuania1921
18Sweden1921
19Azerbaijan1921
20Armenia1921
21Georgia1921
22Ireland1922
23UK1928
24Spain1931
25Turkey1934
26Bulgaria1944
27France1944
28Slovenia1945
29Italy1945
30Croatia1945
31Macedonia1946
32Romania1946
33Malta1947
34Belgium1948
35Bosnia & Herzegovina1949
36Greece1952
37Hungary1958
38Cyprus1960
39Monaco1962
40Switzerland1971
41Andorra1973
42San Marino1973
43Portugal1976
44Liechtenstein1984
45Moldova1994
46Vatican City0
Europe Avg1895
World Avg1930
q=46.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

4. Prejudice

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions (2014)21
Pos.Lower is better
%21
1Sweden4
2Netherlands5
3UK8
4Denmark9
5Czechia13
6Finland15
7Norway15
8Iceland16
9Italy20
10Ireland20
11Portugal21
12Estonia22
13Switzerland26
14Germany27
15Belgium27
16Slovenia27
17Latvia28
18Austria28
19Montenegro29
20Spain29
21Moldova30
22Bosnia & Herzegovina32
23Georgia32
24Croatia33
25Romania35
26Lithuania36
27France37
28Azerbaijan37
29Ukraine38
30Belarus38
31Hungary41
32Serbia42
33Bulgaria44
34Poland45
35Armenia58
36Turkey69
37Greece69
Europe Avg29.9
World Avg36.8
q=37.

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews22,23,24,25. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East26, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews27,28. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"29. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males30.

For more, see:

See:

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

LGBT Equality (2017)31
Pos.Higher is better
Score31
1Netherlands103
2Belgium90
3Sweden86
4Spain79
5France78
6Norway72
7Iceland72
8Denmark72
9UK72
10Luxembourg70
11Andorra63
12Malta63
13Portugal63
14Finland57
15Austria56
16Ireland53
17Hungary49
18Croatia45
19Estonia45
20Slovenia45
21Germany44
22Monaco40
23Albania40
24Switzerland40
25Poland40
26Serbia40
27Cyprus40
28Italy40
29Romania39
30Slovakia39
31Greece39
32Czechia39
33San Marino35
34Montenegro35
35Kosovo35
36Georgia35
37Bosnia & Herzegovina35
38Bulgaria33
39Lithuania30
40Moldova25
41Liechtenstein25
42Ukraine25
43Macedonia25
44Turkey25
45Latvia25
46Armenia20
47Belarus15
48Azerbaijan15
Europe Avg46.9
World Avg12.6
q=48.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence32. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws33. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries32. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

For more, see:

See:

4.3. Freedom of Thought

#europe #freedom_of_belief #freethought #human_rights #netherlands #religion #religious_tolerance #secularism #the_enlightenment

Freedom of Thought (2021)34
Pos.Lower is better34
1Netherlands1.0
2Belgium1.0
3France1.3
4Iceland1.5
5Norway1.5
6Sweden1.5
7Kosovo1.8
8Albania1.8
9Slovenia1.8
10Luxembourg2.0
11Greece2.3
12Liechtenstein2.5
13Bulgaria2.5
14San Marino2.5
15Ukraine2.5
16Romania2.5
17Austria2.7
18Czechia2.7
19Ireland2.8
20Latvia2.8
21Lithuania2.8
22Monaco2.8
23Montenegro2.8
24Portugal2.8
25Malta2.8
26Georgia2.8
27Slovakia2.8
28Estonia2.8
29Denmark2.8
30UK2.8
31Hungary3.0
32Finland3.0
33Spain3.0
34Cyprus3.0
35Switzerland3.0
36Serbia3.0
37Moldova3.0
38Bosnia & Herzegovina3.3
39Armenia3.3
40Germany3.3
41Macedonia3.3
42Croatia3.3
43Italy3.3
44Poland3.5
45Turkey3.5
46Andorra3.7
47Belarus3.8
48Azerbaijan4.0
Europe Avg2.6
World Avg3.0
q=48.

Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Belief are upheld in Article 18 the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights35. It affirms that it is a basic human right that all people are free to change their beliefs and religion as they wish36. No countries voted against this (although eight abstained). This right was first recognized clearly in the policies of religious toleration of the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe in the post-enlightenment era37 of the 19th century. In democratic countries, freedom of belief and religion is now taken for granted38. In 2016 a study found that over 180 countries in the world had come to guarantee freedom of religion and belief39. The best countries at doing so are Taiwan, Belgium and The Netherlands34,40 and the worst: Afghanistan, N. Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia34,41.

Long-term studies have shown that religious violence and persecution both decrease in cultures where religious freedom is guaranteed42. Despite this, there still are many who are strongly against freedom of belief36, including entire cultures and many individual communities of religious believers. Their alternative is that you are not free to believe what you want and they often state that you cannot change religion without being punished (often including the death penalty): this is bemoaned as one of the most dangerous elements of religion43 and "the denial of religious freedoms is inevitably intertwined with the denial of other freedoms"44 and the solution is, everywhere, to allow religious freedom and the freedom of belief.

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See: